By Kyle Lawson
Beaver County Times
Aliquippa resident Taishawn Harris said she’s satisfied with the selection and prices at the new Aldi store on Shaffer Road. The challenge is getting there.
“It’s affordable, and they have enough produce,” said Harris, 40, as she waited for her ride on a December evening with a cart full of groceries. “But I definitely wouldn’t walk here, I’d have to get a cab.”
Aliquippa is among thousands of areas nationwide the federal government has classified as “food deserts,” based on the poverty level and access to a supermarket.
In conjunction with Michelle Obama’s healthy food initiatives, major retailers promised in 2011 to open or expand 1,500 markets in and around food deserts by 2016, but by their own count are far short.
The nation’s top 75 food retailers opened nearly 10,300 stores in new locations from 2011 to the first quarter of 2015, of which 2,434 were grocery stores. But only about 250 were in food deserts.
Beaver Falls, Vanport Township, Ambridge, Midland, Pulaski Township, and sections of Monaca and Freedom are located within food deserts in Beaver County, according to a formula administered by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, and Health and Human Services.
An urban town qualifies as a food desert if the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 500 people live more than one mile from a supermarket. A rural town qualifies if the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and more than 500 people live more than 10 miles from a grocery store, according to the agriculture department website. Continue reading Nation’s Supermarkets Fall Short of Promise to Combat ‘Food Deserts,’ Including Many in Beaver County