News release from Parkview Community Health Improvement:
Parkview convenes community group to discuss access to healthy foods
(May 30, 2013) â€” Community members from a diverse range of industries and perspectives came together in downtown Fort Wayne today to discuss the issue of local food deserts and a lack of access to healthy foods in certain areas of the city. The group was brought together through a new Parkview Community Health Improvement initiative called EXPLORE which challenges community leaders to understand the broad range of factors that contribute to a healthy community.
Food deserts, as defined by the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, are areas identified through census data with a high-population and low income with no supermarket or large grocery stores accessible within one mile. A combination of transportation and financial obstacles significantly hinder these community members from accessing the balance of basic, nutritious food necessary to be healthy.
“We know overall community health is affected by numerous catalysts, including access to healthy foods, economic development, education, youth empowerment and senior citizen engagement, among others,” said Mike Packnett, CEO and president of Parkview Health. “EXPLORE brings together voices from throughout the region to discuss, critically assess and potentially solve each relevant issue, one collaboration after another.”
Participant’s in today’s EXPLORE event heard from Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health as well as local individuals who live in a local food desert and must deal with a lack of access to healthy foods on a daily basis. An afternoon bus tour also brought to light the benefits provided by community gardens as one potential solution to the local issue of access to healthy foods.
“EXPLORE is another tool that will help to provide more insight and perspective into what food deserts are and how we can use this knowledge to empower the community to make a positive change,” said Sue Ehinger, president of Parkview Hospital and affiliates. “This initiative is another resource Parkview Community Health Improvement will put into action with the goal of helping individuals eat and live healthier.”
EXPLORE is a strategicgathering of individuals from all areas of the community who have an interest in understanding the root causes of community health issues. It allows us to look at the community and learn about these issues directly from its residents.