Big Connecticut Cities are Health Food ‘Deserts': USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls Hartford a “food desert” when it comes to the limited accessibility to healthy foods.

The "deserts" in the state not only include Hartford, but also Bridgeport and New Haven.

“There’s no question we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure all of our residents no matter what neighborhood they are in to make sure they have access to healthy affordable foods,” Hartford Mayor-Elect Luke Bronin said.

According to an analysis by the Associated Press, no large food retailers have opened supermarkets in Hartford, New Haven or Bridgeport from late 2011 to early 2015. The cities are areas of Connecticut the federal government said needs the stores most.

“I’m healthy enough physically to move around, but some people are limited in their, you know, moving around and access the stores,” David Miller of Hartford said.

For residents of Hartford, there is hope: a smaller grocery store coming to Main Street.

“As part of the promised development around the baseball stadium there is supposed to be a grocery store I hope to hold their feet to the fire and I know they’re working hard to make that happen,” Bronin said.

Large retailers have opened 14 new supermarkets across the state over the last four years. None of them opened in “food desert” cities like Hartford.

“The only option can't be the corner store where too often prices are high and the food isn’t healthy,” Bronin said.

The USDA’s food criteria are based on poverty rates and distance to the nearest supermarket.

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