From Cultivation to Consumption: Linking Urban Agriculture, Nutritional Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Telehealth to Food Deserts and the Social Determinants of Health.
Irving H. Smith, Ph.D.

More than 2 million Americans live in food deserts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2009) defines food deserts as those urban areas that are more than a quarter mile from a supermarket that shelves healthy food choices. In rural areas, that parameter is set at 10 miles. Food deserts contribute significantly to the social determinants of health. Not only are most individuals in food deserts economically disadvantaged and living below the Federal poverty level, poor nutrition has been linked to a number of major illnesses and diseases. In addition to malnutrition and obesity, the poor eating habits of persons in food deserts are directly linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetes. Cobb, LK, Anderson, CA, Appel, L, Jones-Smith, J. et al (2015) state that “poor diet was responsible for more than 600,000 U.S. deaths in 2010 alone.” Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland, working through its newly established Health Sciences major, is offering students opportunities to improve the health and well-being of persons living in food deserts and underserved/underrepresented areas across the nation and around the world by linking coursework in urban agriculture, nutritional sciences, environmental sciences, and telehealth. These students will then be better equipped to serve and to demonstrate to individuals in the underserved/underrepresented communities of Baltimore, the nation, and the world how to manage the social determinants of health, health inequities and health disparities and how to invest in growing their own food and how to focus on making healthier food choices.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaes.v5n1a2