There’s a “grocery gap” in many parts of Minnesota, according to a new poll, and many consumers can’t take advantage of healthy foods because they don’t have a nearby store that sells them.  The poll, commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, found that 56 percent of those questioned don’t believe that all Minnesotans have access to healthy food, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background.

Two-thirds of those in the poll reported shopping for food once a week or more at traditional grocery stores, 47 percent at big-box mass merchandisers, and 19 percent at convenience stories. More than one-third said they travel at least 10 minutes to a full-service grocery store, with longer times more likely outside the Twin Cities.

Janelle Waldock, director of the Center, said nutritious foods are important for overall health and well-being, but there isn’t a single answer for how to increase access to them. “We hear a growing desire for more access to healthy food in Minnesota communities, schools and workplaces, but there are varying perspectives regarding who is responsible for making these positive changes a reality,” she said.

Waldock said that consumers can encourage existing retailers to offer more healthy options, and support new businesses that want to open in underserved areas.

The Minnesota Food Charter has identified barriers to healthy food access and has suggested changes in policy to improve the food system.  It was created in 2014 by a broad-based group of Minnesota organizations, including the Minnesota Department of Health.

The poll contacted about 1,000 Minnesotans 18 years and older in April and May, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

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