Ethnic Redlining Practices are Immoral

Philadelphia is the birthplace of The Constitution and American democracy, yet many people throughout the city and across our nation lack a fundamental right—to food. “I was so worried about being full, I never thought about being well-nourished.” This statement from a high school junior represents the more than 22 percent of Philadelphia residents that are food insecure.

Uplift, a nonprofit organization based just outside Philadelphia, is working to eliminate food deserts nationwide. America was founded on the belief that every last person is created equal. Uplift is trying to improve the quality of life in underserved communities because raising a family and living a healthy, full, life should not be restricted due to unfair, biased circumstances. They believe that veryone should have the freedom to choose nutritious food for themselves and their family, regardless of where they live.

For many, the only choice to feed their family is fast-food restaurants selling fat-filled meals that contain a days’ worth of calories in one meal. It's plenty of food, but none of it is healthy and it constitutes what we call a food desert—a place, even an entire community—with little or no access to healthy food, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products. Some people must live their entire life without being able to shop at a grocery store, forced to go without access to the basic ingredients required for a healthy, home-cooked meal.

Millions of American, mostly poor and many African-Americans, live in these areas. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture reports that more than 23 million Americans currently live in food deserts, including 6.5 million children. The negative effects of food deserts on our health are myriad, and include obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs in the U.S., and estimates for treatment costs are $147 billion to $210 billion per year.

Not so long ago, crime and safety was a staple of local news coverage. Working in the world of  nonprofits has revealed the reality of a different major hardship that low-income families face. It is possible that having access to fresh and healthy food could be based on having the right zip code.

Audrey Fish is the Communications Manager at Uplift. For more information, call 856-471-2008, email or email


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