People living in underserved communities find lack of access to healthy food

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Many Nashvillians especially those living in underserved communities don’t have access to healthy food and News 4 spoke with those experiencing this issue firsthand.

On Tuesday afternoon in South Nashville, cars line up one by one. MNPD officers and leaders with Nashville Noticias and Conexion Americas pick up boxes and load them into trunks, helping families get a bite to eat.

“It’s a blessing for the community,” Nashville resident Maria Bullock said.

Maria Bullock’s one of the many in line.

“I got laid off last year and I come here once and a while to get goods, to help with the expenses,” Bullock said.

It’s not just something to eat, but also a nutritious meal.

“I think this should be everywhere, because we’re all the same. Everything healthy, should be good for everybody. It should be good for all kinds of people. I mean, we all deserve the best,” Bullock said.

Access to healthy foods has been an issue in many underserved communities for years. COVID-19 and the economic crisis has only made the problem worse.

The United Way of Middle Tennessee analyzed the need for food across the area. Food request ranked number 2 on the top request list in 2020, coming second only to housing and shelter.

And when you look at the highest rates of requests for food broken down by zip codes in Davidson County, these are the top 5: 37213. 37208. 37228, 37207, AND 37210. Zip codes and neighborhoods in North and South Nashville.

“Access determines everything,” Andres Martinez, Director of Policy and Communication with Conexion Americas said.

Martinez says the problems is more significant than a lack of healthy food options.

“If the grocery store is too far away from you and you can’t drive… If the grocery store is not on a bus route….Or your apartment or your house is not on a bus route that can get you to a grocery store, it’s a lot more difficult that food..that fresh food…that’s sold at grocery stores and not say a corner store,” Martinez said.

And that lack of access can also lead to health disparities and increases in conditions, like obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

“It’s around poverty and the location of Brown people in your cities that are typically in parts of the town that are under-resourced. That don’t have markets with green vegetables, don’t have public access directly to public health care facilities,” Dr. Andrew Churchwell, Professor for Medicine and Cardiology at Vanderbilt University said.

It’s why so many organizations and city leaders, including the MNPD are trying to give back and make a difference.

“That’s the big thing. With unemployment, and the hard times, people don’t have the means to purchase these foods,” MNPD Sgt. Chase Burnett said.

It’s a step in the right direction, to help so many families who just want a healthy meal and lifestyle for their future.