Access to food

A just food system is one in which people are food secure, that is, that all people have access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.

When thinking about equitable access to food, it’s important to consider the many different ways that people access their food, whether it be from grocers friends, restaurants, food banks, and other ways. In order for that access to be just, the food must be affordable and healthy and people are empowered to choose the food that wish to eat. Many researchers focus on so-called “food deserts,” where there is no nearby retail outlet for food. However, proximity to markets is only one aspect of access, as affordability and cultural appropriateness of food is also important. Supporting alternative markets and connections between communities and food producers can be a way to move towards more a more just system. These community-based alternatives include farmer’s markets, food coo-ops, community gardens, and street food that provide those communities with better access to healthy and culturally appropriate foods.


Appetite for Change is a Minneapolis-based organization dedicated to building capacity for food system access in North Minneapolis. In this story, they talk about the importance of being a part of the community and listening closely to the needs of the community before moving forward with solutions.


  • Support the creation of farmers markets especially in disadvantaged communities that can help create strong ties between farmers and those communities.
  • Support local co-ops that put food choices and systems into the hands of local communities to connect those communities with local farmers. If you are a member of a co-op, use your voice to make sure that the voices of all members of the community are represented.
  • Look for other ways to support the creation of alternative connections that strengthen ties between communities and local farms.

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  • Brinkley, C., Raj, S., & Horst, M. (2017). Culturing food deserts: Recognizing the power of community-based solutions. Built Environment, 43(3), 328–342.
  • Cadieux, K. V, & Slocum, R. (2016). What does it mean to do food justice? Journal of Political Ecology, 22, 1–26.
  • Elias, M., & Marsh, R. (2020). Innovations in agricultural and food systems sustainability in California. Case Studies in the Environment, 4(1), 1–14.