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Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

General information

The food around us influences how we eat. This is our “food environment” which is the food that surrounds us in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and in our workplaces.

We all know eating healthy food is an important way to stay healthy. But many people don’t have access to quality healthy food or know which foods are healthy and how much to eat. 

Low income communities often don’t have grocery stores. Instead, they have convenience stores that mostly sell junk food, soda, and other unhealthy food and beverages.

Many communities have areas known as “food deserts.” These are whole neighborhoods that are cut off from even one grocery store.

In San Mateo County most people have good access to full service grocery stores and/or farmer’s markets. Many people live in neighborhoods where junk food is the easiest food to eat. For many, the main issues are the high cost of healthy foods and the fact that unhealthy foods are easier to buy than healthy foods.

San Mateo County spans remote coastal and mountain communities and a dense metropolitan corridor. Eleven percent of the San Mateo County’s population is food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough food for a healthy, active life.

Food insecurity can impact health as nutrition has a strong relationship with preventable diseases and mental health. At the same time demand for locally grown food is increasing, land in agricultural production is dwindling, and there are few opportunities to make a living working in farming and ranching. These complex issues inspired County and community leaders to ask how food and agricultural systems can work together as part of the infrastructure of a healthy, thriving, and connected county for all.

Find more data on access to healthy food data  our Healthy Neighborhoods data page.