Healthy food is essential for a healthy life. But some communities have it, and some don’t.

Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color generally have 2-3 times less options when it comes to healthy food, compared to more affluent or white neighborhoods (U.S Economic Census; County Business Patterns, 2015). Historically, discriminatory practices in bank lending and urban development limited neighborhood resources for people of color, including home and business ownership. These same practices led to what are commonly called “food deserts.”

  • Food Deserts - The term typically describes a neighborhood that lacks full-service grocery stores, but also often refers to a built environment that is generally sparse in fresh food options (restaurants, farmers’ markets, etc.) and overwhelmed with high calorie, highly processed junk food and fast food.

Other terms used to describe these neighborhood conditions include:

  • Food swamps - the over-allocation of unhealthy food in a neighborhood

  • Food apartheid - the structural inequality of food available to affluent and white communities compared to low-income and communities of color

  • Food mirage - when healthy food options are present, but unaffordable or otherwise out of reach for low-income residents- a scenario seen at the nexus of new food retail and gentrification.

LAFPC advocates for policy, environmental and systems change to address food inequities in Los Angeles. We partner with small businesses already serving low-income areas and help them succeed in bringing affordable, fresh food options through the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network program. We close the gap in fresh food distribution to small markets ts through COMPRA Food s, a produce delivery social enterprise currently serving over 60 business, as managing partners with LURN and API Forward Movement. We provide recommendations on policy and planning tools to promote grocery, farmers markets and other healthy food retail in LA’s food deserts, including recommendations adopted in the Mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn , Plan for a Health LA and the Los Angeles County SAAFE Act (Safe Access to Alcohol and Food Establishments.) For learn more about food equity and access to healthy food, please read our white paper, “Fresh Perspective: Food, Equity and Community Development,” <link> co-authored with Community Health Councils and LURN.


A new Working Group on the Good Food Economy is coming in early 2019. A Good Food Economy is one that provides access to nutritious food, quality jobs and economy opportunity, inclusive of historically disenfranchised communities. The Good Food Economy Working Group will focus on the root causes of “food deserts” by focusing on food as a driver for addressing the historic racial wealth gap for communities of color. The Working Group will engage businesses, government and community partners on expanding access to fresh food by creating access to jobs, ownership and entrepreneurship in food businesses.  

To join this Working Group, please drop us a line here.