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Alternate Activity 2: Exploring Food Deserts

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • A computer with Internet access, and a large monitor or a digital projector and screen
  • The address of your congregation

Preparation for Activity

  • Test Internet connection.
  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Participants learn about "food deserts" and explore local conditions using the USDA's Food Desert Locator.

Say, in these words or your own:

The Georgia Street Community Garden is one project in one city working to address the problem of food deserts.

Ask participants if they know what a food desert is. Write their ideas on the newsprint. Explain, in these words or your own:

A food desert is an area where the people lack enough grocery stores that they can easily walk to, if they do not have a car or public transportation. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines a food desert as a low-income community where a substantial number of residents live more than a mile from a grocery store (or 10 miles in rural areas).

Ask for a volunteer to open the Food Desert Locator website and click on "Enter Locator." A map of the United States will appear with food desert areas highlighted in pink. Ask for another volunteer to click on "Find Address" and enter the congregation's address in the designated space. Allow time to have everyone view the map and locate landmarks such as where they live or go to school (use the zoom in/out navigation bar on the left side of the map). Once everyone has viewed the map, solicit responses:

  • Are there food desert areas near our congregation?
  • Are you surprised by how many or how few there are?
  • What are some things our congregation could do about food deserts?

Post another sheet of newsprint. Brainstorm ideas and discuss action steps to find out which ideas are feasible and how the group might do them.

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