The LinkProject at Meadowcreek was a 2011-2012 USDA-funded program that sought to help increase access to healthy, nutritious foods in food deserts and low-income communities, specifically Stone County and surrounding Arkansas counties. It currently supports ongoing programs as well as seeks to help create new opportunities in the Meadowcreek Valley (Fox, Arkansas).
There are numerous factors that determine a food desert designation. One significant factor is small rural communities most often have less access to the broader global market and consequently have fewer choices in food retailers. Lack of competition in the community not only restricts access to food resources, but can also result in higher food costs.
With more than 50 million Americans living in “food-insecure” households, much of this food insecurity is the result of families living in areas where they don’t have easy access to healthy, nutritious food. In these communities, families often turn to convenience stores and fast food restaurants for their meals. This results in diets high in processed sugars and fats, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases, not to mention nutritional imbalance.
Operating on the premise that communities can improve their food security by producing their own healthy food, the LinkProject implemented the following four strategies in order to expand Stone County’s direct producer-to-consumer relationships, as well as provided helpful information about the value of eating local fresh and healthy foods.