It is an extremely sad truth that eating healthy can be quite costly in the United States, or that access to healthy foods and adequate nutrition is limited to well-to-do neighborhoods. Food prices have risen significantly this past year, motivating those who cannot afford them to shop and eat unhealthy. The challenge is provide people who can’t afford healthy foods like vegetables with easy access to them. A study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing provides a solution to breaking the barriers of access for people on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the barriers for providers at Farmers’ Markets.
EBT card transactions (for people on food stamps) at Farmers’ Markets are expensive and inconvenient for both farmers and consumers. This is because EBT card processors are expensive for vendors, which explains why there is one central processor, if any, at a market place. This complicates the process for the consumer, who finds it easier to purchase food at supermarkets that are more expensive, or eat fastfood. However, the study shows that more people purchased fresh produce at a particular Farmers’ Market when EBT transaction machines were provided for free to all vendors in that market.
Policy makers should review studies like this in an effort to provide easy access to healthy food for people who cannot afford supermarket variety health foods. It is disheartening that obesity, malnutrition, and related diseases are prevalent in poor and neglected areas when there are some simple solutions (like eliminating “food deserts” in urban and rural America; and lowering the relative prices of healthier foods).
If you’re on a budget and find it difficult to eat healthy, check out some tips on “eating healthy on a budget” here. Please feel free to share any tips you may have!