If you live in one of Missouri’s 100 food deserts, shopping for groceries can be difficult. But there are ways to bring home fresh food without breaking the bank.
A food desert is a neighborhood or county with no local option for fresh, affordable groceries. The Missouri House Bill 1411, a measure to improve access to food, defines food deserts as areas where you must travel at least one mile to get to a grocery store in a city or 10 miles in rural areas. .
Coupled with off-season produce and rising inflation, these barriers can keep you from filling your cart with healthy, affordable foods.
The biggest sign you’re overspending on groceries
Living in a food desert automatically means you pay more to put food on the table, so this is something you will need to plan on every visit to the store.
But there is a sign that you are paying too much a lot on the food, even by desert standards.
Emptying your savings account to cover your groceries is a financial misstep. This money should be set aside for emergency expenses, so that you have cash if anything happens between the paychecks.
Without emergency funds, you are vulnerable to any unexpected expense until you manage to top up your account.
If you are faced with an emergency before replenishing your savings, you can find personal loans online in Missouri that could help you. Go online to learn more about these options, including installment loans and lines of credit. A little research can help you decide if they are the right option for your emergency.
But even the best personal loan in Missouri charges interest, which you’ll have to add to the cost of your loan. Savings, on the other hand, cost nothing, making it the ideal approach to emergencies.
How to find nutritious food on a budget
If you live in a food desert, all of the usual money-saving tips, like buying in bulk, stocking up on canned goods, and using coupons, might not be enough. To make serious savings on your next bill, you’ll want to embrace these changes to how and where you shop.
Join a community-supported agricultural harvest sharing
Look for a Missouri-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnership that connects local farmers with consumers. It is a subscription that allows you to collect fresh produce from local farms.
Benefits of the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)
If you are a pregnant or recent mother, you may be able to receive FMNP benefits. This government program provides coupons or electronic benefits to low-income women so that you can purchase fresh produce from licensed farmers.
Establish a community garden
A community garden is a big business that promises huge rewards in fresh fruits and vegetables. Not sure how to get started? Check out the University of Missouri’s guide to gardens here before exploring the Missouri government toolkit here.
Find a food cooperative
A food cooperative is a grocery store owned and operated by the people who shop on its shelves. Typically, food cooperatives partner with local businesses and farmers to provide better quality food at lower prices. Some food co-ops also offer nutrition and cooking classes to help you make healthier food choices.
A balanced budget and a diet are not mutually exclusive ideas. But you have to be smart and look for alternatives to the usual grocery store to achieve both in a food desert.