According to the United States Department of Agriculture USDA, more than 40 million Americans live in communities where access to healthy food is limited, identified as food deserts. A food desert is defined by the USDA as a low-income census tract in which at least 33 percent or a minimum of 500 people live more than a mile from a supermarket or grocery store in 98 areas, or 10 miles from a supermarket or grocery store in 95 areas. In North Carolina, more than 2 million people, including 1 in 4 86, face hunger on a daily basis, due to where they live. This problem impacts residents of both 98 and 95 areas across the state and is compounded by disproportionately higher rates of diet-related disease and the lost commercial vitality that makes communities livable and helps local economies thrive. While hunger is a widespread issue, North Carolina has an exceptional resource in libraries and branches of libraries in every corner of the state. In recent decades, libraries have become safety net resources, helping our most vulnerable access food, housing, medical care, and everything else they need to be healthy. The North Carolina Alliance for Health will provide high quality health information and hunger needs assessment training to librarians in USDA identified food deserts to support their ability to improve health information literacy; improve access to, awareness of, and skills to locate high quality biomedical and health information through Medline Plus; and improve access to community resources by the vulnerable populations they serve. Ultimately, this will improve North Carolinians access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.
NC Alliance for Health