Food deserts turning into food ‘swamps’ with more fast food than groceries available

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Local organizations are calling for change after studies show more people are going to fast food restaurants than grocery stores due to food deserts.

The new trend is happening in areas now being called "food swamps." They're places like the near northwest side where the nearest grocery store is miles away. Last summer, many neighborhoods were turned into food deserts after Double 8 Foods suddenly announced the closure of all of their locations.

Carina McDowell is the chair for food access for the Northwest Area for Quality of Life and The Executive Director for Fall Creek Gardens, Inc. She says more and more people are choosing fast food options, because they're cheap and convenient, but there's a price to pay for your health. McDowell said fast food and canned foods at convenience stores are higher in sugar, salts and fats.

McDowell stresses the importance of getting a healthy and nutritious meal, but understands the availability isn't there for everyone. She said any people rely on public transportation or the help from neighbors and family members to get to grocery stores.

“If you’re riding the bus, you cannot buy everything you need to prepare a meal, so you’re going to buy whatever’s lightweight and convenient," McDowell said.

In a study conducted by The Indy East Food Desert Coalition and Butler University Center for Urban Ecology, only one percent of people who live in Indy's east side neighborhoods cook at home daily. State Representative Robin Shackleford is working with other lawmakers to propose a summer study on plans to improve food quality and accessibility throughout the entire state.

State committees will choose a list of summer studies on Wednesday.