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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jay Lynch, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Cell

Date: May 23, 2011


Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) in partnership with the Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) and the Delaware Chapter of the American Planning Association invite Delawareans to explore solutions to urban food access at a free half-day event, "Forum on Access to Healthy Foods in Delaware's Built Environment," on May 24 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Embassy Suites on 654 South College Ave. in Newark.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in "food deserts" - areas of high poverty and low access to healthy affordable food. Majority of these areas are located in urban and rural areas and often have an abundance of fast food restaurants or convenience stores where unhealthy processed foods are sold. Such structural inequalities limit the access to healthy food choices potentially leading to obesity - the second leading preventable cause of death in Delaware and the United States.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH's director, will address participants regarding the public health approach to food deserts. "This effort can't be accomplished without community collaboration," Dr. Rattay said. "Here is a great opportunity to begin the conversation toward resolving this issue within the state."

Other presentations will cover barriers to healthy food access in a specific Delaware community and food desert mapping in Delaware. A panel discussion, with audience interaction later in the afternoon, will draw perspectives from a variety of stakeholders.

HEAL is a network of more than 70 organizations and 200 individuals that provide statewide leadership and serve as a catalyst for policy, environmental, and systems changes that aim to prevent obesity through healthy eating and increasing physical activity throughout Delaware.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.