CHICAGO — This city continues to make progress in reducing its “food deserts” — areas with limited access to affordable, nutritious food — according to researcher Mari Gallagher.
In 2010, 58,652 fewer individuals lived in underserved areas in Chicago than in the previous year, according to “The Chicago Food Desert Progress Report,” released in September by Gallagher, principal of Chicago-based Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group here.
In a similar report issued last year, she reported that 23,940 fewer people lived in Chicago food deserts in 2009 than in 2006. However, the population of the Chicago food desert communities still includes 550,382 residents occupying about 104 million square meters, she said.
Gallagher attributed the reduction in the food desert population to “more market movement” into underserved areas, though she declined to name specific stores.
In a study conducted for online grocer Peapod, Gallagher identified the 100 city blocks in Chicago — which fall into ZIP codes 60636, 60644 and 60628 — with the greatest opportunities for improvement in fresh food access. “The families at greatest risk would likely be those living in those 100 blocks,” she said in a statement.