The City of Baltimore Department of Planning defines a “food desert” as “an area where the distance to a supermarket is more than one quarter of a mile; the median household income is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level; over 30% of households have no vehicle available; and the average Healthy Food Availability Index score is low.” In Baltimore, a disproportionate number of African Americans live in food deserts — 35% compared to just 8% of white Baltimoreans. Food deserts also have huge impacts on children, as almost a third of Baltimore’s school-aged children live in these areas.
The impact of Baltimore’s food deserts on childhood education, along with some creative ideas on how to bring healthy, affordable food to affected areas, is the topic of a paper by St. Mary’s College of Maryland alumnus Gabriel H. Rubinstein ’11 entitled “Hungry In The ‘Land Of Pleasant Living’: Combating The Effects Of Baltimore’s Food Deserts On Childhood Education,” published in the University of Maryland Law Journal on Race, Religion, Gender and Class last year. This month, Rubinstein will be among panelists of scholars, community leaders, and policy makers at “United not Divided: Economic Inequality and Opportunity Gap,” a two-day public forum to be held March 30-31 at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. The forum is organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy at St Mary’s College of Maryland.
In this two-day free public event issues of economic inequality and the opportunity gap will be discussed. The second day is devoted to Baltimore and its efforts to reduce poverty and transform low-opportunity neighborhoods. Rubinstein will be on a panel that will feature another distinguished St. Mary’s College alumnus, Brandon M. Scott, currently serving on the Baltimore City Council.