Warm weather a relief for those living in food deserts - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Warm weather a relief for those living in food deserts

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Monday's wild weather was a welcome change for many in La Crosse following the chilly temperatures prevalent during April. 

Latilia Warren said the sunshine and 60 degree day saved her money and made for a more pleasant trip to the grocery store. 

Warren lives in a food desert -- which the Healthy Food Financing Initiative defines as an area where "a substantial number or share of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store." 

Jennifer Loging, a nutrition supervisor with the La Crosse County Health Department, said food deserts are areas further than one mile from the nearest grocery store in urban areas like the city of La Crosse. 

She said in rural areas the benchmark is raised to 10 miles. 

Loging also said living in a food desert can be especially challenging for those who don't drive. 
Warren said, when she needs groceries, she rides the city bus from her apartment complex near Gundersen Health System's main campus to the Festival Foods on La Crosse's Copeland Avenue. 

The distance between destinations is just 2.2 miles. 

But Warren said in total the trip takes more than an hour and proves especially draining during the winter. 

"Waiting for the bus takes up most of the time," she said. "When it's cold out, that's the worst." 

Warren said she often skipped the bus ride all together during the winter and sprung for a cab instead. 

But she added the cab ride, costing roughly $8.00, is more expensive than taking the bus. 
Warren is a student at Viterbo University and thus is permitted to ride the MTU for free with her student ID. 

Loging said the long winter we experienced this year likely only discouraged those living in food deserts to make the trip to their nearest grocery store. 

She said she hopes the spring will make things easier for them.

"In order to have a healthy environment and healthy food at home, you need access to healthy foods," Loging said. "People that are not within close range of those foods, for them, it's more challenging to get the foods." 

 

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