Large portion of Indy classified as food desert

INDIANAPOLIS - Access to nutritious food is one of the many problems facing people who deal with hunger in the community.

Many areas in Indianapolis are considered food deserts where few grocery stores, if any, even exist.

For many families who live south of 38th Street, finding fresh food is almost impossible as many grocery stores in the area have closed

"It’s kind of hard to get to fruits and vegetables from an actual grocery store,” said resident Dion Holland.

Holland said the nearest grocery store with access to fresh produce is several miles away. That means catching the bus and hauling the grocery bags home.

"I don’t drive so I have to wait for a ride to get to an actual grocery store. So I’m typically eating junk food and unhealthy things from Family Dollar rather than going to an actual grocery store," Holland said.

A food desert is classified as an area where at least 20 percent of people fall into the poverty status and in urban areas, grocery stores are more than a mile and a half away. In rural areas, it’s more than 10 miles away.

Mohrman Family Dental falls in the heart of a food desert. Dentists there said urban decay inside of the area is showing up in the form of tooth decay.

"These kids, not only do we see the dental decay, but there are a lot of them living with discomfort and pain and that’s heartbreaking as well," dentist Gianna Mohrman said.

Mohrman and Jill Thomas said with only convenience-store junk food available to eat, many clients suffer from a number of health issues.

"When you have chronic inflammation in the mouth, you are putting yourself at risk for so many other issues: heart issues, lung issues, brain issues," Thomas said.

Gleaners Food Bank is one of the many organizations trying to address the issue. The Community Cupboard gets nutritious food through partnerships. They have seven pantries stocked with fruits and vegetables throughout their service area.

There is even a mobile pantry.

"This is a large truck that can bring up to 10,000 pounds of food and serve up to 400 families in a two-hour period," said Eddie Oliver with Gleaners.

It is all made possible through generous donations that provide nutrition to families living in the middle of a food desert.

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