Youth Healthy Lifestyles Food Desert Survey


The Youth Healthy Lifestyles Survey is a Distant Learning initiative. We provide up to 14 SSL Community Service Hours for PGCPS students grades 8-12. #DistantLearning #StayHome

Parts of Prince George’s County has been labeled a “food desert” by the USDA, meaning its residents do not have sufficient access to groceries or fresh food. Potentially life-threatening diseases like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are disproportionately higher in the county. Despite the fact that the county has the highest concentration of African American wealth, we also have deep pockets of poverty. Grocery stores and places to stay fit can be hard to come by in Prince George’s County.

To address this community destroying issue, SAFEO has partnered with Giant Food “Healthy Living Sector” nutritionist Leslie Jefferson, MS, CNS, LDN and the University of Maryland Master Gardening Program to create the “Youth Healthy Lifestyles Food Desert Survey”. The mission of this initiative is to enlist hundreds of our youth ages (14-19) to canvass food desert neighborhoods, by engaging county residents with a 25 question online survey focusing on access to fresh fruits, vegetables, produce, places to stay fit and neighborhood safety.

Earn up to 100 SSL hours as a Food Desert Surveyor to help county residents eat healthy and stay fit!

SAFEO Campers learning about nutrition

View SAFEO Campers Learning About Nutrition on Instagram

To achieve the goals of the survey, we worked with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MD-NCPPC) Neighborhood Revitalization Section, Community Planning Division to craft a SurveyMonkey survey. This online survey is live to those users who access it, where you can submit as many responses as you like. The apparatus is able to log IP addresses for responses, therefore if for some reason we receive a huge number of responses from an unknown source are submitted, we can flag the location if needed.

The survey is 100% compatible with any computer, cell phone or tablet. Students who volunteer will participate on a every Saturday schedule. They will be trained on how to use the survey questionnaire, as well as the strategies that will be implemented to canvass the districts listed as Food Deserts. The measurable outcome goals of the survey are:

  • Determine which locations have no grocery stores within a 10 mile radius.
  • Determine which locations have planning sanctioned by the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation to build new grocery stores.
  • To engage in 2020, 3500-5000 county residents with the survey to determine what social and economic barriers they’re facing that hinders them from gaining access to fresh fruits, vegetables, produce and affordable places to stay fit.
  • To get fitness locations like Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym to sign on to a petition in support of allowing EBT recipients to use their EBT card cash option to purchase gym membership.
SAFEO University of Maryland Field Trip Day 2

View SAFEO University of Maryland Field Trip Day 2 on Instagram

Post data collection objectives: In 2020 the initial survey is to map the targeted areas to determine the severity of the barriers county residents are facing that hinder their ability to gain “easy access” to fresh fruits, vegetables, produce and fitness locations. The prerequisite benchmarks used to survey these areas are those that: Have low number of food outlets, highly populated, low number auto-less households, low-income, high rates of crime, graffiti ridden and not safe.

Click here to download survey target districts

Click here to see the survey questionnaire

You must be 14 years or older to participate.

The data collected will also be used to provide residents and stakeholders a review of the number of those who are more vulnerable to food and fitness limitations, offer county-specific policy and development recommendations and the results of a special petition to get fitness centers such as Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym to allow EBT cardholders to use their card cash option to purchase gym memberships.


The Youth Healthy Lifestyles Food Desert program is supported by and “Made possible in part through funding provided by the Maryland-National Capital Park Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County.

Special acknowledgments thanks to:
County Council Members:
Mel Franklin (D), At-Large
Jolene Ivey (D), District 5
Monique Anderson-Walker(D), District 8

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