Cincinnati 'Food Deserts' linked to health problems

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Centers for Disease Control ranked Ohio as the 13th most obese state in the nation.

One of the contributing factors is the lack of grocery stores in some neighborhoods, according to officials. Those neighborhoods are called 'food deserts'.

A campaign has been launched to help change that.

Liz Carter, Executive Director of Cincinnati's St. Vincent DePaul Society, said the West End is typical of many neighborhoods without a local grocery store.

"It's interesting when you put in your GPS a grocery store. The first thing that comes up in this neighborhood is a gas station," said Carter.

Carter conveyed it's hard on families.

"The families that live in neighborhoods like this don't have access like so many of us do, to stores where they can get fresh produce and good quality food something beyond snacks and a bag of chips," she said.

Donna Jean Wells in Clifton said living in a food desert can be a burden.

"It's affected my health in that I've gained weight because I've not been walking to my local grocery store," said Wells.

Liz Carter said it's a problem agencies like the St. Vincent de Paul society are trying to address.

"We make a big push to make sure that we provide fresh produce and milk and protein, and the things that you wouldn't get at a convenience store," she said.

The Center for Closing the Health Gap launched a Food Desert awareness campaign to educate the public about the relationship between diet and illness.

However, Goessling IGA General Manager Chris Acus revealed the difficulty in putting a grocery store in every neighborhood that needs ones.

"The cost of properties, rents, the overhead that the owners have to deal with on a regular basis, and changing prices and the whole financial crunch as it is right now. It is difficult, and it takes a bold person to put a store in."

Clifton hasn't had a grocery store in the past 12 months, but if all goes as planned, Goessling IGA will reopen later this year, eliminating one food desert in the Cincinnati area.

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