A New Level of Complexity: Food Deserts in Monroe, Oregon
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Eating is a human necessity and human right. For this reason, issues of food insecurity and malnutrition are only becoming more relevant with increased levels of inequality seen worldwide. Policy makers, academics, and nonprofit workers alike seek to alleviate issues of hunger, ovemutrition, and undemutrition abroad as well as in the United States. Many academics and policy makers refer to the term "food desert" when attempting to understand challenges a community faces in accessing food. This term refers to a community's proximity to a full-scale supermarket or grocer but fails to consider important factors such as community ties or vehicle ownership that also influence an individual's ability to access food. Using the example of Monroe, Oregon, this narrative will examine the strong social ties that influence the way a community accesses food in addition to vehicle access in small rural towns. The information in this section comes largely from informal and unstructured interviews with key players in the food system and residents of Monroe and Southern Benton County. When possible, this information is supplemented with additional research. The narrative continues to discuss the relevancy of findings throughout the state of Oregon and the implications of these findings, proving that other factors influence food access that remain largely unnoticed outside of the local communities.