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Want a More Equitable City? Try Food-Oriented Design

The way to a stronger city is through its stomach

Cities rely on a familiar toolkit to become stronger, healthier, and more livable: expand transportation, create public space, add jobs, construct housing.

While these strategies have been proven to work, they also fuel inequality and displacement; not everyone benefits from a big build. A different approach is poised to promote more socially resilient and sustainable growth: food-oriented development.

Food-oriented development is not new—organizations have been successfully implementing these programs locally for years. However, a new grant program from the Kresge Foundation called FreshLo—shorthand for “Fresh, Local, and Equitable”—is affirming this approach and investing much-needed capital to help it scale. Recently, it awarded 23 nonprofits $200,000 each to nurture this type of work.

The discussion about food and urbanism usually focuses on grocery store access and the need to eliminate food deserts—areas without grocery stores—and food swamps—areas with a high concentration of unhealthy food—as the presence of each correlates with areas that have high obesity rates.

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