Black Health Matters: Four Black Millennials Are Educating Their Communities About Food Justice

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What is Black Health Matters? What is BLKHLTH? Four millennials have a mission for creating food justice.

What is Black Health Matters?

People know that good nutrition is necessary for the growth, development, and health of people in all stages of their life. It can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers, but for many lower income, marginalized communities, being able to purchase healthy food is a luxury.

The Black population of the United States is greatly affected by the lack of access to healthy foods in their communities, which leads to lifelong health issues. Many young Black people are hoping to change this and to achieve food justice for their communities and beyond.

Inspired by #BlackLivesMatter, four Emory University students started BLKHLTH, as part of the Black Health Matters movement.

What is BLKHLTH?

BLKHLTH's, founded by Paulah Wheeler, Khadijah Ameen, *Matthew McCurdy, and Mercilla Ryan-Harris, goal is to get people talking about health. Specifically, they aim to make sure information is centralized and accessible by providing content and community events in the hopes of empowering the black community.

Wheeler told Bustle, "Food justice is racial justice. In order to give all people equal access to healthy, nutritious, and affordable food, we will have to dismantle racist systems and policies. The same racist mechanisms that create segregated neighborhoods and income inequality also cause food deserts to exist."

What is a food desert?

Food deserts are parts of the United States where fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods are unavailable -- usually in impoverished areas.

Instead, people find food at bodegas or other local quickie marts -- the choices are usually limited to processed, sugar, and fat laden foods.

The USDA defines a food desert as an area where at least 33 percent of the population doesn't have a grocery store within one mile of their home.

American Nutrition Association

BLKHLTH hosted an event on Novemeber 30, 2017 called "Soul Food Junkies" in Southwest Atlanta. Most of Atlanta's neighborhoods south of Buckhead are low income, with low access to grovery stores that have healthy food.

At the event, residents watched a documentary, also titled Soul Food Junkies, listened to speakers, and tried vegan food.

While BLKHLTH is helping their communities by raising awareness, there needs to be a greater movement.

Wheeler said, "We can make food more accessible through community initiatives such as urban farms and mobile grocery stores. The biggest impact we can have on food accessibility, however, is through local, state, and national policies. Increasing the enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); major improvements in expansive, safe, and affordable public transportation; and incentives for grocery stores to open in poor and minority communities will all help make healthy and nutritious food more accessible for those who need it most."

Through ensuring that people have healthy foods, communities will become stronger. In short, Black Health Matters because Black Lives Matter. Learn more about BLKHLTH by following them on Twitter and Instagram.

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