Bringing Gardens to the Food Desert

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A little over five years ago, Bill and the Bill Moyers Journal producers visited an urban community garden and farmers market in the East New York neighborhood of New York City. Take a look:

That year, one in nine American households reported having struggled to put food on the table. Those figures have since risen to one in seven.

At the same time, the poor quality of the processed food available in many “food deserts” — areas in which residents lack access to a local supermarket — contribute to high rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Today, lack of access to nutritious food continues to be a significant problem in both rural and urban areas across the country.

Food deserts across the country are highlighted in the USDA's interactive Food Access Research Atlas.

But farmers markets like the one we saw in East New York are becoming increasingly common in food deserts across the country. Today, over a hundred farmers markets in New York State — and over 2,000 markets across the country — allow customers to pay with cards from government nutrition assistance programs, like EBT and SNAP.

In recent years, the East New York Farm has more than doubled in size and supplies food to 7,000 customers each year.

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