Healthy eating is still challenging for low-income families

Wealthier Americans are choosing more heart-healthy foods than before.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Healthy eating is becoming more popular in our country, but only among those who can afford it. Surprisingly, it’s not just that they can’t afford the fruits and vegetables. Some people can’t access them.

“Before it was never really hard like that, but now it’s harder,” said Ana Rosa of Springfield.

There’s a widening gap between those who can afford healthy foods and those who can’t.

“Prices and everything change. I buy a couple of meat and they cost me like 54 dollars. The ground beef, a small packet for 6 or 7 dollars,” Rosa told 22News.

A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found in the past decade, wealthier Americans are choosing heart-healthy foods, but low-income Americans aren’t changing their habits.

It is more expensive to eat healthy foods, but not as expensive as you might think. According to a 2013 study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, it costs about 1.50 per person per day to eat healthy meals versus the processed, unhealthy foods.

It’s not just about money. Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood is considered a food desert: there isn’t an easily accessible full supermarket nearby.

“Transportation is always an issue. We have residents we know take two buses to get to a grocery store and then are limited in the amount of food that they can actually carry back home if they’re riding by bus, so it makes it very difficult,” said Wanda Givens, Director of the Mason Square Health Task Force.

She said the organization is also working with corner stores to offer healthier options at a lower price. There is a desire to eat healthier: residents have planted gardens in empty lots to have fresh produce at lower prices.

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