Seeking Sustenance

Some Hampton Roads communities are considered food deserts



Food deserts exist in many urban areas of the United States

It’s hard to imagine that a region as developed and densely populated as Hampton Roads has communities without ready access to groceries. These so-called “food deserts,” however, are a real problem. Food deserts most often occur in low-income areas where residents lack reliable transportation, so they must often rely on the higher-priced, less-nutritious selection available at a corner store, despite that a better option might just be a couple miles away.

Michelle Alexander, an instructor of nutrition at Thomas Nelson Community College who has studied food deserts, says that a number of initiatives, such as improving the selection at convenience stores and fostering community gardens, are possible solutions to this public health problem.

Below are some of the food deserts in Hampton Roads’ cities, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Beside each listing is the percentage of residents with low income and low access to affordable, nutritious groceries.

1. Norfolk, Diggs Town and Campostella – 56.8%
2. Norfolk, Highland Park – 35.7%
3. Hampton, Olde Hampton, Downtown, Pasture Point – 26.2%
4. Suffolk, Western Downtown – 26%
5. Norfolk, Chesterfield Heights, Grandy Village – 24.5%