Millions of Americans live in urban areas and rural towns where they lack access to healthy affordable foods.
Evidence shows that people who have access to supermarkets tend to consume more fruits and vegetables and have lower risk for obesity.
Supermarkets and supercenters provide the most reliable access to nutritious and affordable produce, and their presence is an important indicator of a community's physical health and economic vitality. Furthermore, the benefits of new or renovated supermarkets and grocery stores go beyond health and include job creation, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development.
In 2004, the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI) pioneered a statewide program offering grants and loans to supermarket developers to build stores in underserved communities, making it easier for an estimated 500,000 residents to find healthier food in their communities. The federal government is now funding similar projects across the country through the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in December 2012, examines the role that supermarkets play in a community's health and economic well-being.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.