UNITED STATES—This is a conversation I have wanted to have with you all for quite some time. Access to quality food for all communities is something that tends to be addressed. As I have heard plenty of time in the past, where you live should not dictate your access to certain foods, especially ones that are healthy vs. those that are not healthy.

Look, let’s chat about the elephant in the room: the inner cities across this country lack access to healthy food options to the community. You should not have more fast-food options in certain neighborhoods versus a quality grocery store. I should NOT see McDonald’s at every corner in a major city, but when I’m looking for a Whole Foods, a Ralphs, a Kroger, a Sam’s Club, a fresh Farmer’s Market or healthy food chain, they are nowhere to be found in the city.

You travel out to the suburbs and you see Whole Foods aplenty, but very limited in many urban communities. I worked at a supermarket chain for years and guess what: people are ALWAYS going to eat food. You need food to survive, so these chains need to look at these markets and do their best to corner that market by opening up establishments in these regions. The public are going to visit that market, they’re going to spend money; they have families that need to eat. So the business is there, so tell me why more supermarket chains like Walmart and others previously mentioned are not catering to these communities.

The constant argument I hear is that there are concerns of theft. Let me tell you something working as an employee of a supermarket chain in inner cities and the suburbs: people steal no matter where you live. I actually witnessed more theft in the suburbs than in the inner city. So go figure America. For those corporate chains making those preconceived notions, stop it already. Just stop it.

A person should not have to travel 20 miles to have access to quality, healthy food. However, this is happening all the time all across the country and no one is talking about it. Let’s talk about it. I should be able to have access to fresh fruits and veggies regardless of where I live. We are constantly talking about the health crisis in this country and the fact that people are obese, overweight, suffering coronary heart disease, Diabetes and so many other health concerns.

Do you know why we’re seeing such trends, poor access to food! I mean people having to shop at the local corner store (riddled across urban communities) because there is no grocery store where they live within walking or travel distance. The grocery stores that may be in the area are not offering the healthiest food options either. The other big issue is the cost of food. Why does it cost more to purchase something that is gluten free versus something that is NOT gluten free? If our focus is on people eating healthy, shouldn’t the cost be cheaper?

You cannot expect someone to spend $10 for a package of gluten free flour, when they can get a package of regular flour for $2. Do you know what that means? They have $8 to spend on other necessities. When the budget is tight every single penny counts and you cannot afford to spend what it is you do not have. Healthy food should NOT cost more than unhealthy food. Please don’t tell me it cost more to put out organic food versus non-organic food because the pesticides used on non-organic foods is costly. It is an argument that holds no weight in my opinion.

There should be more options to food no matter where you live in this country, the cost to eat healthy should be much cheaper and we should be pushing the healthy foods at an affordable price versus pushing the unhealthy items at a much cheaper rate. We want people to be healthy; we need to make it not only accessible, but affordable for all price budgets people.

Written By Zoe Mitchell