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.