One the eve of a summit address so-called "Food Deserts," a new report finds that they are actually declining in Chicago.
Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group's 2011 Chicago Food Desert Drilldown found lack of access to healthy food has declined nearly 40 percent over the past five years.
Although the decline shows improvement of awareness, the Gallagher group warns in a statement that "serious health and retail challenges persist."
According to the research, nearly 384,000 residents are still living in the Food Desert with more than 124,000 of that number being children.
The Food Desert issue has gained momentum with proponents such as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who will join First Lady Michelle Obama in Chicago Tuesday for the "Food Desert Summit."
In conjunction with Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to prevent childhood obesity, the summit will host mayors and grocers from across the nation to discuss the lack of healty food in poorer communities.
Mari Gallagher stresses the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is vital for poorer communities, but often food stamps stores in Food Deserts are "fringe" stores with very little healthy, fresh food.
"We need to both enforce and raise the standards," said Gallagher. “We must ensure the SNAP promotes good food, public health, and is an economic development engine."
Gallagher research group first studied the Food Desert in 2006.