Healthy Affordable Food for All (HAFA) was formed in 2005 as a coalition of advocates, service providers and local food activists working to increase access to healthy, affordable food in all D.C. neighborhoods.
Every day in the District of Columbia, one out of eight households struggles against hunger. D.C. residents need three things to be healthy: money to consistently buy a nourishing diet; knowledge on how to make nutritious food choices; and healthy, affordable food outlets in their neighborhoods.
Our work is driven by the disconnect between what D.C. residents need and what they have:
- According to the Food Research and Action Center's Food Hardship reports: Nearly 19 percent of respondents in D.C. experienced food hardship (reported not having enough money in the past twelve months to buy food for themselves or their family) in 2010. In 2009-2010, 37.4 percent of households with children in the District of Columbia said they were unable to afford enough food. This is the worst rate in the nation. The food hardship rate for households without children drops to 14.9 percent.
- Many D.C. residents lack ready access to a major supermarket. Supermarkets are a primary source of moderately-priced fresh, nutritious foods. Of the city's 43 full-service grocery stores, only two are located in Ward 4, four in Ward 7, and three in Ward 8. By contrast, Ward 3 - the highest-income Ward - has eleven full-service stores. Farmers' markets, another source of fresh foods, are also unequally distributed. Only three of the city's 30 farmers' markets are located east of the Anacostia River.
- Rising food costs are squeezing low and middle-income family budgets. Nationwide, food costs have increased 7.9% in the last two years. Dairy products now cost 14.8% more and fruits and vegetables 10.3% more. Meanwhile, wages for non-managerial workers have increased only about 5%.
- Inadequate access to nutritious foods can lead to obesity and other health problems. Obesity and related health problems are more likely when most sources of food nearby are convenience stores and fast food restaurants. Research also suggests that people who cannot afford to buy enough food to consistently meet their basic needs may adopt unhealthful eating patterns, for example, eating high-calorie foods because they stave off the sense of hunger or cost less than fresh fruits and vegetables. Over time, lack of sufficient food can lead to physiological changes that cause the body to store more calories as fat. Wards 7 and 8, which have the District's highest poverty rates, also have the city's highest obesity rates and are home to large "food deserts."
This group is now working to create a food systems council in DC. For the latest updates on these efforts and other projects, check out the DC Food for All Blog
. If you are interested in learning more about our work or would like to attend our meetings, please contact us