“Food Swamps” Targeted by County Health Department

Douglas County families, especially children, are still struggling to find better selections of fresh, healthy foods, partly to blame is a problem you don't have to go to the everglades to find.

In the heart of North Omaha, David Adams doesn't consider himself a swamp man, just your local grocer. “The conversation started by looking at what produce I had to offer the community, then expanding from there, trying different items seeing what stuck, what didn't,” Adams said.

But in fact, Adams' JnD Grocery is in the heart of a “food swamp”.

“Food swamps are where there is an excess number of ... fast food restaurants, where you are more likely to get foods that are less nutritious,” Mary Balluff, Douglas County's Chief Community Health expert said. She spent the morning explaining this problem to her fellow health colleagues.

The problem is, what is quick and easy, isn't always the healthiest but with a little planning, shoppers can stretch their dollar further.

“If we tell people over and over again how to eat healthy that is never enough, people actually need to practice,” Balluff said.

Que JnD Grocery.

DC Health Department is working with shops like Adams' to not only promote the healthier choices, but provide them as well.

“Sometimes starting off, you end up throwing half of them away, but as you build up the clientele and all the customers know in the neighborhood that you are carrying more fruits and vegetables, you are able to buy more full cases of stuff like that,” Adams said.

At the Omaha Health Summit Thursday morning, experts identified “food swamps” as part of the four areas the county is focusing on. The three year plan targets better access to health services, proper nutrition and childhood obesity, youth violence and behavioral health issues.

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