The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services supports and promotes Florida agriculture, protects the environment, safeguards consumers and ensures the safety and wholesomeness of food. Our programs and activities are so varied and extensive, they touch the life of just about every Floridian. Florida is fortunate to have an abundance of agricultural commodities. We produce over 300 products on more than 9.5 million acres of land. The agriculture industry provides the food and fiber people need to thrive.
However, in 2014, the department began a statewide study to collect information on the health of residents and food environment across Florida. We found that more than 3 million Floridians are food insecure, with one in every four being children. Without access to consistent nutritious meals, these residents are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, stroke or liver disease, and children are more likely to perform poorly in the classroom. Our findings indicate that having access to nutritious food options is linked to better health and more positive outcomes.
“Florida’s Roadmap to Living Healthy” is an interactive, online map developed to identify areas where healthy food access improvements are needed and could make the most measurable impacts.
The map includes all the available data on:
- Florida’s food deserts (areas without ready access to quality retail grocery stores)
- Floridians eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- Death rates from diet-related illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers
- Social indicators including poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and uninsured rates for families and children
- Locations of emergency food assistance organizations and programs
On top of this data, users can overlay multiple data elements of the resources available to provide people with better access to nutrition education and healthful food. All this information can help identify communities at the greatest risk for nutrition-related health problems.
Hunger must be addressed as a health issue. By using Florida’s Roadmap to Living Healthy and working together, we can share Florida’s abundance with those who need it most and improve the health of our state.