Access to fresh and healthy food is one of the main building blocks of a successful and healthy neighborhood. A 2010 white paper published by PolicyLink and The Food Trust (which references over 130 other studies) shows that increases in fresh and healthy food availability leads to significant benefits for communities, including healthier eating options, lower risks of diet-related chronic diseases, and the potential for creating employment opportunities for neighborhood residents.
In the North End of Lexington, access to fresh and healthy food options is limited. The image located below comes from the University of Kentucky Department of Geography’s Atlas for a Community Mapshop and displays the lack of options in the North End.
In late 2015 and early 2016, the North Limestone CDC co-hosted a series of community dinners and workshops with the University of Kentucky’s Community Innovation Lab and 10 community researchers. These community dinners looked to determine barriers that currently existed for healthy food options in the North End, what residents’ ideal remedies to these barriers were, and then identify the obstacles that would need to be overcome in order for those remedies to work. To determine this, the following questions were asked:
- How can people get healthy fresh food in the North Limestone neighborhood?
- What is your vision for food access in the North Limestone neighborhood in the next five years?
- What are the barriers to purchasing healthy, fresh food in the North Limestone neighborhood?
These questions were designed to create a strategic plan for growing access to fresh and healthy foods based on the perspectives and viewpoints of neighborhood residents. The questions and their responses are catalogued in the Northside Common Market Community Report, published by the North Limestone Community Development Corporation and the University of Kentucky Community Innovation Lab. The following sections detail some of the findings in that report.