Would it surprise you to learn that nearly 54 million US residents live in a desert? That number sounds too high if we’re discussing geographic deserts. But unfortunately, that number is accurate when we talk about “food deserts.” Food deserts are areas where residents lack the income, access, or both to have nutritious and affordable food.
The Hillsboro Food Co-op seeks to address this problem directly. The USDA designated parts of Cornelius, Forest Grove, and downtown Hillsboro as food deserts. (If you click on the orange layer in this map, you will see the data.) With a thriving community-owned grocery store in downtown Hillsboro, we will be able to offer fresh, local food at fair prices to help combat this lack of access.
We believe that access to adequate nutrition is a fundamental human right. And we believe that communities have a responsibility to work together to make it happen. If you share this vision, we invite you to learn more about our plans and consider becoming a lifetime owner.
Food Insecurity Impacts Millions
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, millions of households lived with food insecurity at least part of the time. Once the pandemic triggered shutdowns and stay-home mandates, the problem worsened significantly.
Feeding America reports that nearly 60 million people sought food from food banks in 2020. As schools closed for the foreseeable future, thousands of students were suddenly without breakfast and lunch five days a week. With companies unable to pay their employees and people at the mercy of an overwhelmed unemployment process, families quickly faced hunger.
As things have stabilized and reopened, there are still about 40 million people in the US who live with food insecurity. And about 13 million of those are children. That staggering number means that thousands of our neighbors in Hillsboro and the surrounding areas are affected.
While low income is a significant part of the problem, lack of access is also to blame. When there aren’t enough options in an area, people have to travel too far to get their groceries. And if they rely on public transportation, the distance can be an insurmountable barrier.
Low-income, low-access food deserts are particularly common in communities of color and rural areas. This fact further marginalizes these groups and is referred to as “food apartheid.” We recognize that this inequitable situation is wrong and unjust, and we’re working to help reverse it.
Food for the Common Good
Unlike most other commodities on the market, food is necessary for human survival. As such, it is a human right that underlies the health of our society. Inadequate nutrition creates a host of long-term medical issues that also impact the wellness of our schools, workplaces, and other communities. Health problems such as obesity and diabetes have direct links to poor nutrition.
When nourishing options are out of reach and inaccessible, families often have to rely on processed and fast food. By investing in programs that make healthy food accessible, we invest in the well-being of each individual around us.
At HFC, our mission is to provide access to fairly-priced, nutritious food for our Hillsboro community. This is both a privilege and a responsibility, and we take it seriously. We can’t grow a healthy community when some families or individuals don’t have access to healthy food.
With a co-op model, we can bring fresh local produce and other food items to our tables and the tables of our friends and neighbors. Food co-ops across the country and right here in Oregon are also doing their part to make healthy food accessible to their communities.
No one should have to miss out on delicious, nourishing meals for lack of access. We can and will be part of the solution, and we encourage you to do the same.
Growing a Community
When faced with such stark data, it’s clear that we need to improve grocery options around the country, which is why we are working so hard to make the co-op a reality. A local store creates jobs, supports nearby farmers, and brings nutritious food to everyone in town.
For systemic health and wellness, we need equitable access to nutritious, fairly-priced food. The Hillsboro Food Co-op is eager to be part of the solution once our doors open. With your support, we can get there that much faster. Join us today!