Walmart’s Fresh Food Makeover

Walmart’s Fresh Food Makeover | Click here to read the article!

Food deserts are a big problem.

They might even sound surreal to a neighborhood filled with supermarkets close by.

But they’re real. They exist…and many people are undoubtedly suffering.

This article talks about new plan that is set in place to help these people in these situations: “In July Michelle Obama announced a joint plan by Walmart, Walgreens and SuperValu, along with three regional chains, to open 1,500 new stores in food deserts across the country. Walmart, the nation’s largest grocery retailer, plans to open more than 275 new stores by 2016 in neighborhoods it claims are underserved. At least a dozen will be in Chicago, where the giant was one of a handful of chains invited to the mayor’s food desert summit. There, the city touted various spots, including one on the fringes of Englewood’s food desert, as ripe for development. Simmons is in talks with the chains and working to put together packages of financial incentives, zoning amendments and other accommodations to seal the deals.

I was so excited to see that a person of such a higher position took the initiative to face these problems head on. With all of my previous research, I knew something like this had to be set in place: neighborhoods and communities are lacking grocery stores…so what do we do? ADD GROCERY STORES. It’s an issue that businesses need to take the initiative with and provide for these areas who need it the most. Although this can’t be “one-second-problem-solver,” I am glad this project is underway. I think they are many people in those desperate areas WANTING fresh foods and healthier choices, but just can’t afford what is around them…and no one should blame them or hold them accountable for that. No blame, just help. I have come across many food projects who are definitely striving to make a difference and I think this plan set by Michelle Obama and Walmart will be the ultimate plan that all those food projects had hoped for and are working for: providing these areas with a solution and a choice…and together, they will all get that much closer to eliminating these food distribution issues. Unfortunately, the supermarkets won’t be giving out free food, so it is possible that low income households would still have obstacles, but with Walmart’s lower prices as a whole, I think it lessens that burden a little more.

Any help is beneficial…and in my opinion, this plan WILL be beneficial in the sense that it will provide healthier options…and those options will be there ultimately for people to choose. Although it doesn’t automatically change people’s habits, it does have the possibility of influencing new behaviors.

Jennifer Stapleton, assistant director of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Making Change at Walmart campaign, says Walmart as a solution to food deserts is a shortsighted solution to a long-term problem. “Why are there food deserts? Because people are poor,” she says. “Having Walmart come in isn’t creating careers that will lift people out of poverty.

From the beginning of this project I have had the mindset that this problem may be much larger than just a problem-solution situation. Yes, there is a problem…but is there a solution? Like I said before, I think Walmart’s plan will be beneficial to those who USE its benefits. Habits are hard to break and are sometimes passed down to many generations without a simple thought…but we can’t just assume nothing will change. We have to influence new behaviors and by supplying new options, I think we could do just that.

I also think the economy plays a huge part in this problem. Unfortunately some of the healthier options ARE more expensive…why buy a bag of grapes for 5 dollars when I could buy a fried chicken sandwich, french fries, a soda, and some ice cream for the same 5 dollars? The ways to get more out of your dollar fall on the greasy side of the food choices. But how can we change that? Personally? I really don’t know. The economy is a total bust…or at least that’s how my older friends and family describe it. I’m still in college and haven’t been kicked on my butt into the real world…but nonetheless, maybe the economy and low-income, poor neighborhoods are the major components of why food deserts exist, not just the lack of actual supermarkets. I’m not entirely sure there even is a correct answer to that…but even so, we have to help one step at a time. Food deserts have a lot of factors that link themselves to every problem every American has ever complained about somehow. BUT WE HAVE TO HELP. That’s why I still hold my position that the Walmart plan is a beneficial one. It’s taking a step to help…it may not completely eliminate the problem, but any help is completely worth it.

And maybe one day…we’ll find our solution.


Group Work: Reaching Out!

My group focused today on contacting as many people as possible about their food distribution projects/organizations. As of right now, we are asking somewhat broad questions in order to start a discussion with these groups and then narrow down our questions with whatever responses we receive back. We’re hoping these programs are willing to share some of their knowledge about their challenges, successes, and future plans.  Below is a basic email structure that I sent out to a few organizations:

“Hello! My name is Kayleigh Schnackel and I am a graphic design student at East Carolina University. In my current class, we were given the opportunity to research health disparities with a concentration more on food deserts and food distribution issues. My group came across your website in hopes to further our research and pick your brains about your project and organization. We had just a few questions…First, we wanted to know your definition of a food desert (since we have found many differing variables) and how you feel your organization is making a great step in helping these issues. We also wanted to know if there have been any major challenges throughout your experience and how you plan to overcome them. And lastly, we would like to know how you have gotten people (and kept people) motivated to participate. Thank you so much for your time and any response would be greatly beneficial!”

Roots of Change

Food Day | Eat Real

SHARE Food Program

Sow Much Good

Now…we wait!



As a group, we came up with a few standard questions to ask people once they respond:

1. What is your specific area of study?
2. What is your definition of a food desert according to the area you live in?
3. What does your program focus on with relation to food deserts?
4. What are the challenges you face in your program?
5. How do you plan on overcoming these challenges.
6. In your opinion, do you think that the issues with food deserts can be solved.

ASAP…Right Away.

ASAP | Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

“ASAP helps create and expand local food markets that will preserve our agricultural heritage, give everyone access to fresh, healthy food, and keep our farmers farming. Our mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. ”

ASAP works through a simple mission of making connections between the farm and the people that need it. They do this in a two ways: Farm to School and Farm to Institution (Hospitals, Colleges, Universities, etc.). For their “Farm to School” process, they work with kids by giving them positive experiences with healthy foods, including farm field trips, nutrition education, school gardens, and by placing local foods in the cafeteria. I think this is an absolute genius process to get kids involved: kids love field trips, and if you place some nutrition education in with it, I think it’ll only benefit them. I think in many ways, food deserts are bound to stay if education never shows up. This is a way to get kids involved and inspire them from the ground up…literally. Also, it’s so important to keep healthy connections alive to big institutions because they provide to so many people: if you distribute healthy food, you automatically raise awareness, and bits of education, which inspire change in return.

Our nation needs a widespread change…and ASAP is working in the right direction by hitting a widespread amount of people.

The Community Foods Project (CFP)

The Community Foods Project (CFP)

The above link is a .pdf document explanation of the Community Foods Project. It’s a federal grants program with mandatory funding every year (through the Community Food Security Act of 1996). I wasn’t aware, before the fact, that these sorts of programs existed. Between 1996-2003, more than $20 million dollars were funded to 166 awardees through this program. It is comforting to know that steps are being taken to support these kinds of programs that will, ultimately, help/improve the overall health (and the ability to sustain that good health) of our communities. I also think it sets a great example by supporting these nutritional projects and letting these groups know that they are producing valuable and beneficial projects.

ABOUT THE PROJECT: “The CFP Program supports projects designed to: help meet the food needs of low-income people; increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues. Additionally, projects are encouraged to: support the development of entrepreneurial projects; develop linkages between the for-profit and non-profit sectors, as well as between other sectors of the food system; and foster long-term food planning activities and multi-system, interagency approaches.”

ABOUT THE GRANTS: “These grants are intended to help eligible private non-profit entities that need a one-time infusion of federal assistance to establish and carry out multi-purpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000-$300,000 with a 1-3 year duration. These are one time grants that require a dollar for dollar match in resources.”


The Food Project: Get people involved.

The Food Project

My group homework was to look up some current “food projects.” I think that, as a group, it’s really important to learn more about what is currently going on or what has previously been done concerning our topic of food distribution and food deserts. It’s all a part of the design thinking process…really enveloping yourself and your group with the situation…which, of course, deals with seeing what the community has already tried doing.

The Food Project has been an organization working toward personal and social change since 1991. Through sustainable agriculture, they have worked with engaging teens and volunteers to improve the food systems of our communities.

“Food from our farms is distributed through our Community Supported Agriculture programs, Farmers’ Markets, and to hunger relief organizations. The young people working in our programs participate in all of these distribution streams, giving them valuable job experiences and a personal connection to our food system and issues of food justice.

In addition to producing and distributing food, we help others grow their own through our Community Programs, and provide training resources based on all we’ve learned since ’91.

The Food Project is a founding sponsor of the Real Food Challenge, a campaign organizing students to increase the amount of real food at their schools.” (The Food Project | What We Do)

Considering what I observed from the Baltimarket flops, I think this Food Project is continually heading in a great direction; it’s not only providing an incentive of job experience, etc. for young teens, but it’s also influencing the newer generations to be involved with the food distribution issues we face constantly. I think real change can come once the younger children choose a better future for themselves; although it’s cheesy, the children really are our future. If they gain new habits, who knows what kind of positive turn the world could take. I also think that through exposing these issues to more people (especially teens who are willing to be influenced) can help newer generations CHOOSE better lifestyles and pass on these kinds of lessons. They have also been working since 1991: these kinds of influences take time…and the fact that they are continually growing as an organization proves that it’s working.

The Food Project also provides many ways to be involved and help them out: there are opportunities through the mailing list, community groups/schools, individual volunteer programs, corporate team programs, and the board of trustees.

“The Food Project’s mission is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system. Our community produces healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs, provides youth leadership opportunities, and inspires and supports others to create change in their own communities. We envision a world where youth are active leaders, diverse communities feel connected to the land and each other, and everyone has access to fresh, local, healthy, affordable food.”

After reading a lot about their organization, it really hits you how personally devoted they are to making a difference and getting people involved. Just like our design thinking process, they use an intensive personal model encouraging youth and adults from all backgrounds to “re-create” themselves for a positive social change. By allowing people to contribute to society through agriculture, etc., I think it really plants the seeds (no pun intended) for real motivation. I think “kind-of-knowing” that you make a difference through volunteering, and “seeing” how you can make a difference are two completely different step stools for communities to really make positive changes.

This might be a great resource for our group to contact; since they are continually growing with progress, it’d be interesting to pick their brains even more about their struggles/challenges and how they plan to overcome them…as well as seeing what surprised them as their greatest success throughout their entire experience. (Contact them here!)

Group Progress, Day 1

Quick Initial Questions/Notes of Findings:







-Dr. Stephanie Jilcott, ECU (Department of Public Health): Focuses on obesity factors and nutritional aspects

-Lauren Roughton Hendricks, ECU (Food Literacy Partners Program Coordinator): offers 12 hours of free nutrition education for any resident of Pitt County


As a group, we want to focus on finding out a real definition of a food desert. We want to focus on its qualities, factors, and residents. Stephanie is contacting a few people who have experience in studies with food deserts. Lisa is contacting people (and researching) more about Zoning Laws that many states have taken (also being considered in Pitt County), which restricts the amount of fast food restaurants in an area. Andy is calling a few experts to get their opinions of a food desert and their own definition of one, and Lizzie and I are researching “food projects”: steps and projects people are already taking to try and help our nutritional “issues.”

Continuing With Source Collection…

•Zoomed in version of food deserts found in NC (taken from Food Desert Locator)

**FOOD DESERT LOCATOR: Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service: Food Desert Locator >> Incredible source to collect statistics of people living in certain areas and the amount of people suffering from limited accessibility. It does show large areas in need nearer to the coast and the mountains.

TLC Discusses USDA’s Food Desert Locator-website article

^^ “Part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, the proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) will expand the availability of nutritious food to food deserts—low-income communities without ready access to healthy and affordable food—by developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores, and farmers markets with fresh and healthy food.”

All and all I am glad to hear the first lady is making big decisions for change in our country. One of the main causes for food deserts existing is  due to lack of availability…how can we change this? Make nutritional food more AVAILABLE. Stores need to be built and need to become more accessible to those people lacking right now. Unfortunately, I think many grocery store/nutritional businesses have purposefully stayed away from certain areas (some that are food deserts, today): Why? Because it would force them to make a business risk in placing a store in an area where healthy food isn’t really seen anywhere or demanded. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if a grocery store is the only nutritional store available…sometimes it deals with low income (not being able to afford what’s offered) and also just not wanting to trade in the double cheeseburger for the strawberry salad. It’s a risk that businesses DO need to start making if our country is ever going to turn our obesity rates around the other way. From a different point of view, maybe it would be GREAT business for grocery stores to be the only one in sight…then people would have no choice to buy their products (of course if they finally made the conscious decision TO buy the healthier choices). Either way, these stores will never know if they try…and if no one tries, then America is ultimately digging herself into a hole.

NC Department of Health and Human Services: Corner Stores Key to Reducing North Carolina’s Food Deserts

NAC County News: “Food, Food Everywhere, But Few Healthy Choices”

The Week: “America’s Food Deserts”-news article

Food Distribution | USDA >> Programs that help supply/distribute food and apply other nutritional assistance to “low-income families, emergency feeding programs, Indian reservations, and the elderly.”

The Atlantic Cities Article: “The Problem With Blaming Food Deserts”

This article looks further into what is really considered a food desert and looks deeper into the areas labeled as one.

“While food deserts may be more of a reality in cities in the Eastern U.S. where poverty is more concentrated, cities in the West have more suburbanized poverty. She (Laura Leete, an associate professor of planning at the University of Oregon, and the author of a recent paper looking at how food deserts are measured in different cities) argues that these aren’t food deserts, but food hinterlands. The issue, Leete says, is not just areas with few grocery stores, but the scattered low-income people who live too far from grocery stores and have few options to get to them (…) And in the context of transportation, residents in food hinterlands are limited. But merely building a grocery store can’t possibly accommodate a fairly large population that’s spread out across the city.” (Laura’s research/paper is found here)

Is the main issue of a food desert circled around low-income? Laura does bring up a good point…although building a grocery store would be helpful, it does raise the question of WHERE to place it so it could reach so broadly across those desert regions? We can’t assume everyone has a matter of transportation. Is it a matter of building the same amount of grocery stores as fast food restaurants per sq. mile? How do we reach everyone? Is it even possible?

Studio H

Studio H

Overview: “Studio H is a high school design/build curriculum for rural community benefit. The one-year program is offered to Junior-year students of the Bertie County school district in North Carolina, providing college credit, a summer job, and a hands-on opportunity to build real-world projects for the community (in this, our first year, we’ll build chicken coops and a farmer’s market in downtown Windsor!). By learning through a design sensibility and “dirt-under-your-fingernails” construction skills, we’re developing creativity, critical thinking, citizenship, and capital to give students the skills they need to succeed, while building the assets the community needs to survive. Given the opportunity to engage within a public education system, we believe the next generation will be the greatest asset and untapped resource in rural communities’ futures.”

About Project H Design: “Studio H is the core educational initiative of Project H Design, a nonprofit design organization that connects the power of design to the people who need it most, and the places where it can make a real and lasting difference. Project H Design was founded in January 2008 by Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller. Our five-tenet design process (There is no design without (critical) action; We design WITH, not FOR; We document, share and measure; We start locally and scale globally, We design systems, not stuff) results in simple and effective design solutions for those without access to creative capital. Project H has been working in Bertie County, North Carolina, since February 2009, and is currently based there. Previous work in Bertie County has included the construction of four Learning Landscape educational playgrounds, three innovative computer lab spaces (above), a weight room for the high school football team, and a graphic campaign for free broadband internet access for school district families.”

More About Project H

Class Thoughts













•10.9% OF FAMILIES BELOW POVERTY LINE ($23K/family of 4)









Can’t believe how many diverse ideas we were all able to come up with as a class about listing health disparities that exist. It’ll be interesting to see what we narrow our topic down to. I’m still more interested in my study of obesity (including food deserts, etc.). Hopefully we can dive in soon to these projects…there’s obviously a lot more to learn than we maybe had originally thought…

Let’s Talk Career Advice

I wanted to make a post about a certain graphic design blog: “8 Valuable Career Advices for Graphic Design Students-Graduation Day!” Not only is it what my group wants to talk about for our Wednesday discussion, but I also think its very valuable (in its own text AND the fact that it gets you thinking about what happens AFTER college…which might I add is incredibly soon).


1. Continue the learning process

2. Theory is easy, practice is NOT.

3. Don’t stop socializing.

4. Build a graphic design portfolio.

5. Polish your core skills.

6. Gain experience as an internee.

7. Never lose faith in your abilities.

8. Make your personality attractive.


They all come in a tie for me in a rating of importance. Each have important qualities and point that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Continue the learning process? Extremely necessary. As an artist surrounded by new technology and programs that update every few months, you need to be willing to learn…it doesn’t stop after college. Although I’m still IN college, I couldn’t imagine discontinuing learning anything about design: to me, you can never know enough…As soon as you get the thought that you know the most, you, in fact, in that moment know the least. That also kind of goes along with #2 and knowing how to practice and step away from the textbook lessons. Practice takes time, but it’s an ultimate learning process that only has its benefits. It’s also incredibly important to always socialize…and this might be where Facebook can finally stand with recognition as an important tool. Creating a circle of friends may lead to new connections…helpful, graphic design connections, that is. Plus, there is always something to learn from someone. It’s imperative to stay social, because it, also, helps get your name out to the world as a graphic designer. And more connections=more possible clients. Building a portfolio and polishing your own skills is another way to help prepare yourself for future work and clean up your presentable image to clients, etc…which also is the outcome when “making your personality attractive.” which would also be a great benefit when “gaining experience as an internee.” I also think its incredibly important to “never lose faith in your abilities”: being cocky is a whole different story, however being confident is a helpful quality to possess. Standing tall and proud of your capabilities as a designer helps you stand out to clients or possible jobs: it also, some would say, helps you CREATE better work…the more confidence you have, the more willing your mind is to make decisions without doubt.

I think all of these are incredibly important to consider and take on when pursuing a design career. I know I’m just beginning, but thinking about my future with confidence makes it not seem so intimidating.

Design career…here I come.