Access to healthy food: A local angle is available on a national event tomorrow, and here’s a Kentucky example

Update, July 21: First Lady Michelle Obama announced Wal-Mart and other retailers plan to open or expand 1,500 stores in the next five years in areas that do not have access to fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods. “Make no mistake about it. This is a big deal. It is a really big deal,” Obama said. Nearly 24 million people, including 6.5 million children, live in these areas, which have been coined food deserts. Wal-Mart plans to open 275 to 300 stores in urban and rural areas by 2016 and expand “food options in more than 700 food deserts,” The Huffington Post reports.

The White House says First Lady Michelle Obama will make a major announcement tomorrow afternoon about her Task Force on Childhood Obesity’s recommendations to make healthy, affordable food more accessible to all Americans. Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Desert Locator, community journalists can localize this story.

A food desert is a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. Many rural areas are considered food deserts, and the USDA locator not only has data that can inform a story, but maps that can illustrate it. Reporter Tonya S. Grace of the Todd County Standard used it to localize the Healthy Food Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. Treasury, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To read her article, click here.

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