Do you know about food deserts? The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Working Group defines a food desert

as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. To qualify as low-income, census tracts must meet the Treasury Department’s New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program eligibility criteria. Furthermore, to qualify as a food desert tract, at least 33 percent of the tract’s population or a minimum of 500 people in the tract must have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

Check out the HFFI’s new food desert locator, and zoom in on central Indiana. The good news? Hamilton County does not have any areas that would qualify for the HFFI’s definition of a food desert. The bad news? Many of our neighbors to the northeast and the south have significant pockets that qualify as food deserts.

Information is power, so I find this map encouraging. The problem for families in need in Hamilton County isn’t finding food; the problems families in need in our backyard face are finding the right kinds of foods and affordability. Community and home gardens are a perfect solution to both of these problems: gardening produces the healthiest possible foods, often at decreased costs, and by partnering with our local food banks through programs like Plant a Row, gardeners can give of their abundance directly to those in need.

I figure once we have the food pantries in Hamilton County inundated with fresh, local produce, community and home gardens on every street, and our communities well-fed, we can turn our sights to helping out our neighbors in Marion and Madison counties!

Get involved: join us out at the Grace Garden or plant a row (or just a container- every little bit helps) for our neighbors in need!

Related to this topic, the Grace Garden was in the news last week. Check it out (and thank you to Amy Sorrells for the “interview”)!