Monday, July 27, 2009

Portland's Food Deserts

According to a research paper entitled "Finding Food Deserts: Methodology and Measurement of Food Access in Portland, Oregon" prepared for the National Poverty Center among other organizations, low income areas in Portland actually, in terms of distance, have more access to food. The higher poverty rates tend to live closer to areas where food is more accessible. In other words, where there is access to food, those living in poverty tend to live very close. This does, of course, leave others living in poverty on the fringes and so many living in poverty still cannot easily access food. But it also means that the majority of those living in poverty tend to have better access to food. In other, more average-income areas of Portland, the location of grocery stores tend to be much further away. While the stores are much further away, however, the people living in these areas have more access to the stores in terms of modes of transportation. Another subject discussed is the ability of the elderly to access food. According to this paper, 60 percent of those that are carless and living in the fringe of high population poverty areas are the elderly (16). Being carless and finding it physically difficult to travel, makes the elderly the most prone to food deserts. This study of Portland shows that food deserts are far more complicated than first imagined. Food deserts cannot be measured simply by relating poverty rates to distance to food. There are more factors involved such as age, mode of transportation, income, and location.

-Kyla Tom

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