Access to Healthy Foods

About This Workgroup

  • The Access to Healthy Foods Workgroup (AHFW) – working subcommittee of the Obesity Task Force
  • Active from January 2012 to October 2012
  • Final report with recommendations to the County Council was issued in October 2012.
  • After an interim report was issued to County Council in May of 2012, the Access to Healthy Food Workgroup was merged with the Community Engagement Workgroup, since many of their next steps were interlinked.

Chairperson: Elizabeth Hendrix, Harford County Department of Community Services

Workgroup goals:

  • Determine if there were regions or populations in Harford County that did not have access to healthy foods.
  • Identify the barriers to healthy foods
  • Make recommendations in their final report to County Council as to how to eliminate those barriers.

The Workgroup partnered with the Harford County Department of Community Service which was working on a project to identify food deserts in Harford County. Food Deserts are areas where there is no or limited access to healthy food. These neighborhoods tend to have higher rates of poverty and higher death rates from diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, as well as a lower life expectancy.

To determine if there were any food desert in Harford County, the AHFW overlaid maps of food retail outlets (supermarkets, farmers markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture, food pantries and soup kitchens) with information on areas of low-moderate income, affordable housing, public transportation, and education level.

Among the low-moderate income areas, the Route 40 corridor was found to have the greatest number of food assistance programs, including soup kitchens, food pantries and congregate meals (nutritionally balanced meals provided in a public setting such as a senior center). This is also the area of the county with the most developed public transit line. The only true food desert, as defined by the subcommittee, was found to be the northeastern part of the county, specifically 21154 (Street), 21160 (Whiteford) and 21034 (Darlington). This area is low-moderate income, has limited access to food retail outlets and no access to public transportation.

Recommendations from this workgroup can be found in the Obesity Task Force Final Report presented to County Council.

Meeting membership and minutes

Click here 2.22.13 OTF CEW update for an update on what has happened to date.