A report issued today by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center finds that residents in lower income, rural parts of the state face geographic barriers that make it harder to shop at grocery stores. As a result they often turn to corner markets or gas station mini marts for food where there are fewer healthy options. Access to affordable, healthy food is essential for the health and well-being of Washington families.
The report finds that residents who live in rural communities must travel 15 miles or more to reach a full-service grocery store. In contrast, metropolitan area residents frequently live within one mile of a full-service grocery store. In rural parts of the state, more families also live in poverty and struggle to have enough money to buy food. The cost of gas to make a longer trip to a grocery store, as well as the time and reliable transportation it takes to get there, make it harder to support a healthy diet.
In addition to state and federal programs that are designed to help lower income households maintain a healthy diet, marketplace initiatives such as the Healthy Corner Store Network can help increase access to healthy food for Washington families in all areas of the state.