Philly Phood Desert

Philadelphia Phood Desert

By Maryrose Kelkis

Where Philadelphian’s are struggling to gain access to fresh food.

Food deserts are common for inner cities and Philadelphia is no stranger to them. There are 307,000 Philadelphians living in neighborhoods with high poverty and low-to-no walkable access to healthy food realtors (roughly 16 neighborhood areas) that are considered a food desert. Some of these food desert locations are a few neighborhoods long. One of the food desert areas goes from Hunting Park to Germantown.

The United States Department of Agriculture describes food deserts as, “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.”

As of 2011, there are only 137 full service supermarkets in Philadelphia and 51 farmers markets. While there are some farmers markets, many are only open a few days a week, limiting fresh food access to those who live around the markets.

Food deserts in Philadelphia.

Food deserts in Philadelphia.

North Philadelphian Madai Remos explains, “Growing up I didn’t consider my area a ‘food desert.’ I just knew that the grocery store was far away and the corner stores were close.”

The number of corner stores in Philadelphia has reached 1,710. Out of the 1,710 corner stores only 618 are considered a healthy corner store. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative seeks to have the corner stores provide healthy items and even hosting in-store community nutrition education classes.

“I think that educating the community on healthy food could help because then communities will know how to spend their money in a way that feeds their families while still being able to be healthy,” explains Remos.

There are some organizations that are trying to help give Philadelphian’s access to fresh and healthy food. One of these Philadelphia-based organizations is called the Philadelphia Urban Creators.

Philadelphia Urban Creators is, “a youth and community driven organization that inspires inner-city neighborhoods to transform neglected landscapes into food hubs, social enterprises, and models of urban sustainability.”

Organizations like these not only give healthy food at a ready and cheaper price, it also involves the community in growing their own food to become sustainable. This grassroots organization originally started at Temple University in hopes to learn about the local community.

With as many people living in these low-food access areas, Philadelphia is finding hope in a few of these numbers. According to the Food Access Report, “we find that approximately 61,000 fewer Philadelphians live in areas with high poverty and low-to-no walkable access to healthy food retailers. This represents a 17% decrease over 2 years.”

“I have seen new grocery stores in some of the neighborhoods that are poor. I have seen the community benefit from these stores opening. It’s a nice change from fast-food restaurants,” says Remos.

Fast-food restaurants

Fast-food restaurants in Philadelphia.

Shown on this map, center city and its surrounding neighborhoods have the highest amount of fast-food restaurants in Philadelphia.

With the rising number of super markets and farmers markets there is still a large population of Philadelphia that is in a low-access area for healthy food. Initiatives have helped decrease the numbers but Philadelphia is still home to many food deserts.

For more information please contact Maryrose Kelkis at

Works Cited


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