Success Stories

Demonstrating healthy food access challenges in Oklahoma

Corner Stores

While the phrase “show, don’t tell” has long been associated with creative writing, it can also apply to efforts to get the public and decision makers to better understand the challenges people face when it comes to accessing healthy foods. At least that’s what advocates in Oklahoma are doing with great success.

During their annual Heart Walk event, the American Heart Association of Oklahoma got volunteers to carry a bag of groceries for a mile, demonstrating the challenge many in Oklahoma face due to being isolated from healthy-food outlets and often without transportation. The federal government defines low-food access in an urban setting as someone living one mile or farther from a store that sells healthy foods.

Many of those who participated in the one-mile grocery walk described it as being a lot harder than they initially thought. One participant, who shared carrying a bag with another volunteer, said that if she had to carry it herself for the entire distance, the
experience would have been “horrible.”

The grocery walk was organized to expand grassroots awareness in Oklahoma as to the struggle that thousands in that state experience just to find nutritious food, and to demonstrate the need for increasing access to healthy foods for residents living in areas with limited access to food. After participating in the walk, the volunteers universally said that they saw the need for more healthy food outlets to make food access easier.

The American Heart Association of Oklahoma also produced a video of the one-mile grocery walk to play online and share in social media channels to further build grassroots understanding of the need to improve healthy food access in the Sooner State.

The organization is now encouraging grassroots advocates to reach out to decision makers, such as city council members, and urge them to increase access to healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods of Oklahoma City, where 62% of residents are classified as having low food access.


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