• 40 percent of state is a food desert, says new report

    Updated:

    BOSTON - A new study says that 2.8 million Bay State residents living in low income areas lack access to fresh groceries.

    Of those 2.8 million, 700,000 of those are children and 500,000 are seniors.

    Areas without access to fresh food are known as food deserts. Massachusetts Public Health Association identified the top 10 communities with the worst access to fresh food, including Chelsea and as far west as Springfield. The study defines as difficult access to fresh food as living father than one mile away from a grocery store. 

    "We know if you live far from a grocery store it can be hard to get there. Most people in low income communities don't have access to reliable transportation,” said Maddie Ribble with MPHA.

    Norma, who lives in Roxbury, has to take two buses or walk two miles to get to her favorite grocery store.

    “Maybe 50 minutes (by bus)…because I love this place,” she said.

    In Dorchester, residents are working on a solution -- a food co-op pulling in local food suppliers and staffed by members of the community.

    “There are really hard working people providing goods and services that the community clearly wants and needs,” said Darnell Adams, Dorchester Community Food Co-Op.

    In 2014, the legislature approved creation of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to give existing markets convenience stores the financial support to carry more healthy options. But it'll only get going if Gov. Charlie Baker puts it in his capital spending plan this year.

    Baker is expected to announce his capital spending plan before July 1. 

    Top Massachusetts Cities with the most significant Grocery Gap:

    1. Chelsea
    2. Springfield
    3. Taunton
    4. Everett
    5. Revere
    6. Lawrence
    7. Lowell
    8. Lynn
    9. Brockton
    10. Chicopee

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