Right here in America: "'food deserts' -- these are areas without a supermarket"

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Steve Davis's picture

"The report demonstrates that Mrs. Obama's depiction of American "food deserts" is fatuous at best.

Lower-income Americans live closer to supermarkets than higher-income Americans."

Politics apart and with skepticism about statistics, there are food deserts in Philadelphia. Where our church meets there is not a single supermarket accessible to people without cars. There are a lot of reasons for that and I'm not saying Washington has the answer. But try taking a bus to buy groceries for a family. There is no question that a large number of people are forced to shop at convenience stores with limited selection and high prices. There is such a store near the corner where I live. I've been there once in a year and bought a gallon of milk that was $1.00 more than in the supermarket. But I have a car so I haven't been back since. Many people have no choice. So, yeh maybe lower income Americans live closer to supermarkets than higher-income Americans but they can't get there on foot.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Wal-Mart has tried to come into many city centers and have been driven away by unions who stir up fear that Wal-Mart will drive down wages.

Daniel's picture

I echo Jim's comment. There will always be exceptions. When I was in college, I would drive through lots of small communities in WI that could not sustain even a small grocery store.

And to Jonathan's point, I wonder if Walmart (or any of the super stores) is not a cause to some of this. They expect people to travel to their stores a certain distance. And within that distance, they expect to take a certain amount of shoppers from the local grocer, which I would assume makes it harder for a) grocers to startup in areas with a smaller clientele b) grocers to stay in business.

But, I would question whether people's ability to get to or location to a grocer are the real issues. I highly doubt if people had a grocery store, even right next door, they would eat healthy if they are not already, especially when you consider obesity is not strictly a lack-of-ability-to-get-to-a-grocer profile issue. If anything, it will just open this profile of people up to more junk food. And this points to the real issue IMO, food and finance education.

Joel Shaffer's picture

In my particular zip code within the city of Grand Rapids, we have lost 3 neighborhood grocery stores over the past 15 years. They were a little cheaper than the neighborhood party stores and gas stations, yet they were quite a bit more expensive than the superstore chains such as Walmart and Meijers (large midwestern superstore/grocery chain) Two of them went out of business (the other, having owned its property for over 50 years, was bought out by the expanding hospital across the street from its location). One of the two that went out of business was located in a low traffic volume area, while the other just couldn't compete. Its expensive to lease space in the city, taxes are more expensive in the city and then you compound that with shrinkage.

The problem with this article is that he won't even admit it that there is a problem. I know of hundreds of poor people in our neighborhood that shop at neighborhood party stores and gas stations, rather than to shop at the Walmarts, Meijers, or discount grocery stores such as Save Alot and Aldis and this contributes to their poverty.

At the same time, when the government steps in to solve this problem, their good intentions often makes the problem even worse. If government incentives/supplements were used to leverage the private sector to open a neighborhood grocery store where the previous two stores in our zip code went out of business, most likely they would have to be supplemented by the government for a long time to stay in business. Just another example of how a government program can easily create dependency.....

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Steve,

So again exactly how many households in Philly do not have access to a vehicle, at least once a month, to do a large grocery purchase? And exactly how is this a government problem? And exactly why do you accept the premise that this fractional portion of the population (I still would like a number) is something that is to be viewed with shame as if their vehicular access to a grocery store is a convenience or liberty to which they are entitled?

Steve Davis's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Steve,

So again exactly how many households in Philly do not have access to a vehicle, at least once a month, to do a large grocery purchase? And exactly how is this a government problem? And exactly why do you accept the premise that this fractional portion of the population (I still would like a number) is something that is to be viewed with shame as if their vehicular access to a grocery store is a convenience or liberty to which they are entitled?

I can't tell you households without looking at a demographics map but there are entire neighborhoods without access. Like I said there are many reasons for this that some other posts have addressed and as I also said I'm not sure Washington has the answers. I go back to Joel's post and concur with it - "The problem with this article is that he won't even admit it that there is a problem. I know of hundreds of poor people in our neighborhood that shop at neighborhood party stores and gas stations, rather than to shop at the Walmarts, Meijers, or discount grocery stores such as Save Alot and Aldis and this contributes to their poverty."

The article seems more bent on Obama-bashing than anything. There's plenty to bash but this guy comes off looking real to the right and real white. And I wonder where he lives and what he drives. I had to chuckle about your "access to a vehicle, at least once a month." Where do you live anyway? Maybe you can shop once a month for all your groceries.

Daniel's picture

Depends on family size. We don't do it anymore because we have grown accustomed to going a few times a week, but my wife and I used to shop once a month for groceries. It would generally fit all in our back seat of our Kia Rio5. Smile

Not really to support either position, I have seen this lady walk to our local grocer (probably from our apt complex 1 mile away). No big deal until you drop it to 10 degrees and snow. That is not a joke, I have seen her do this. Couple bags of groceries each time.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

In fact, our family does shop once a month for the substantial purchase of our groceries and buys locally to supplement during the rest of the month. But that isn't the issue, the issue is your acceptance of the premise that somehow those who do not have access to a vehicle is something that other people should be ashamed of and remedy, without any consideration to the facts of how and why this perpetuates itself both as a community (if that be true) and as individuals.

But what I did find strange is your accusation about the person writing the article:

Quote:
this guy comes off looking real to the right and real white.
How does questioning Michele Obama's claim of food deserts come off as white?

For someone who has spoken strongly against stereotyping and its alleged negative affects on minorities in the church, you certainly don't seem to be in short supply of this very method in reacting to and referencing the writer. That is disappointing.

Personally I believe you have, at some point, accepted the liberal narrative of the poor, the needy, minorities and such and brought this into your theology. I know far too many poor, needy and minorities who, themselves, have come to reject the view that it is those with power that are the main cause of poverty or disadvantage in this country (and it is this country we are talking about right now). They know that it is within themselves and that this country offers the necessary freedoms and opportunities that they cannot look back, possibly as one might have in the past, and said, "it is simply too one sided, I cannot progress".

In fact, you would be rather surprised to meet my neighbors. Many of them do not look like me or my family. But somehow, they are living at the same standard as my family. The do not speak of obstacles, rather opportunities. My neighbor next door came from a very poor background and as a minority. Yet here he is, having worked hard, hard enough to have already retired. My neighbors have experienced just about the same amount of difficulties that I have experienced from talking to them, though each negative experience has been unique, these neighbors of mine do not talk about having made it in a place where opportunity did not exist in a broad way.

It is quite easy to find demons and villains where suffering occurs due to issues that are too uncomfortable to discuss because it requires a great deal of admission that the lacking is not due to some imagined Wall Street culprit or dispassionate Anglo American happy to be warmly tucked into his or her bed with their stomachs full, a blessing indeed from God, rather that their lacking comes in the form of self-infliction via both personal and cultural values and postures that simply have served to exacerbate their condition and perpetuate their isolation from the conveniences and advantage enjoyed by many.

Does this mean no one consider their plight? Of course not, but it certainly directs the proposals for remedy and to avoid or dismiss this is to engage in folly when talking about truly addressing the issue.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Here is an interesting article that might shed light on the issue from the Washington Post. It is called, "Poor? Pay Up.
Having Little Money Often Means No Car, No Washing Machine, No Checking Account And No Break From Fees and High Prices"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/17/AR200905...

And it is one of the reasons we spend time focusing on financial budgeting and financial literacy with those that we minister to.....

Jim's picture

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=penn+and+ply... ]Map

http://coldfusion-guy.blogspot.com/2007/07/minneapolis-plymouth-riots-40... Riots here 40 years ago

We drive through this area morning and evening going to and from work

Up to several years ago there was a nice grocery store 2 blocks east of this intersection. Went out of business. Was redeveloped and now some kind of offices for the University of Minnesota.

See all the empty lots .... from destruction 40 years ago. Never redeveloped.

More of the riots

http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=259164 and

Quote:
Eventually, in 1967 ? 40 years ago this summer ? those frustrations ignited into a riot on Plymouth Avenue.

Minneapolis joined the list of cities, including Los Angeles, Detroit and Newark, in which the civil rights movement sparked a rebellion.

"People were very unhappy with things around the country, and so they reacted the way everybody else did around the country," said Liz Samuels, a longtime resident of North Minneapolis.

"This was simply a statement of rejecting of this assigned second-class status," said fellow northsider Al McFarlane.

And north Minneapolis wasn't unique.

"It was happening all over the country," said Alfred Babington-Johnson, CEO of the Stairstep Initiative. "The frustration (was) about how does this system works started to respond."

In north Minneapolis, the frustration destroyed Plymouth Avenue.

"They broke all the windows and they trampled through everything," said Harriet Kaplan, who was caught by a camera the day after the riot, as she was carrying boxes out of Koval's appliance store at Plymouth and James avenues North.

"It looked like people got along," she said. "Why (the riot) happened, I don't know."

[color=red ]Forty years later, the businesses are gone from Plymouth[/color ]. Koval's Appliances moved to Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park.

More here with photos

http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/699835886/minneapolis-then-...

Quote:
July 19 [1967 ] – A race riot breaks out in the North Side of Minneapolis on Plymouth Avenue during the Minneapolis Aquatennial Parade and business are vandalized and fires break out in the area, although the disturbance is quelled within hours. However, the next day a shooting sets off another incident in the same area that leads to 18 fires, 36 arrests, 3 shootings, 2 dozen people injured, and damages totaling 4.2 million. There will be two more such incidents in the following two weeks.

Questions: Why all those empty lots? Why won't an individual investor invest in developing a grocery store there? Answer ... risk!

Steve Davis's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
In fact, our family does shop once a month for the substantial purchase of our groceries and buys locally to supplement during the rest of the month. But that isn't the issue, the issue is your acceptance of the premise that somehow those who do not have access to a vehicle is something that other people should be ashamed of and remedy, without any consideration to the facts of how and why this perpetuates itself both as a community (if that be true) and as individuals.

But what I did find strange is your accusation about the person writing the article:

Quote:
this guy comes off looking real to the right and real white.
How does questioning Michele Obama's claim of food deserts come off as white?

For someone who has spoken strongly against stereotyping and its alleged negative affects on minorities in the church, you certainly don't seem to be in short supply of this very method in reacting to and referencing the writer. That is disappointing.

Personally I believe you have, at some point, accepted the liberal narrative of the poor, the needy, minorities and such and brought this into your theology. I know far too many poor, needy and minorities who, themselves, have come to reject the view that it is those with power that are the main cause of poverty or disadvantage in this country (and it is this country we are talking about right now). They know that it is within themselves and that this country offers the necessary freedoms and opportunities that they cannot look back, possibly as one might have in the past, and said, "it is simply too one sided, I cannot progress".

In fact, you would be rather surprised to meet my neighbors. Many of them do not look like me or my family. But somehow, they are living at the same standard as my family. The do not speak of obstacles, rather opportunities. My neighbor next door came from a very poor background and as a minority. Yet here he is, having worked hard, hard enough to have already retired. My neighbors have experienced just about the same amount of difficulties that I have experienced from talking to them, though each negative experience has been unique, these neighbors of mine do not talk about having made it in a place where opportunity did not exist in a broad way.

It is quite easy to find demons and villains where suffering occurs due to issues that are too uncomfortable to discuss because it requires a great deal of admission that the lacking is not due to some imagined Wall Street culprit or dispassionate Anglo American happy to be warmly tucked into his or her bed with their stomachs full, a blessing indeed from God, rather that their lacking comes in the form of self-infliction via both personal and cultural values and postures that simply have served to exacerbate their condition and perpetuate their isolation from the conveniences and advantage enjoyed by many.

Does this mean no one consider their plight? Of course not, but it certainly directs the proposals for remedy and to avoid or dismiss this is to engage in folly when talking about truly addressing the issue.

Wow. So much to answer and so little time.

1. No vehicle, no shame - just the facts when it comes to shopping
2. No stereotyping - he is right and white. Just happens that most of the "food deserts" seem to be in urban black neighborhoods. To call it a scam claims way too much
3. No liberal narrative - no conservative bandwagon either as if they just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Do you really believe the myth of "it is within themselves and that this country offers the necessary freedoms and opportunities?" And this – “their lacking comes in the form of self-infliction via both personal and cultural values and postures that simply have served to exacerbate their condition and perpetuate their isolation from the conveniences and advantage enjoyed by many.” Sounds like Darwinian economics.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
Questions: Why all those empty lots? Why won't an individual investor invest in developing a grocery store there? Answer ... risk!

Jim, To a certain extent I do agree with you. Often crime causes poverty. A high crime-rate will drive businesses out of a neighborhood, those that stay will charge higher prices, property values fall, and etc.....

However, there were other social factors besides the riots. White flight, for instance. Later on in one of your articles, one of the people interviewed talked about how real estate agents played into the fears of people.

"I think there certainly were real estate agents that tried to capitalize on these difficult times," he said. "(They) went around telling people, You'd better sell right now. The neighborhood is changing.' "

By the way, I was old enough to remember white flight when I lived a couple years in Cleveland Ohio. I remember as a child in the 1970's my parents discussing how many of their neighbors were panicking because a African-American family moved onto their street. Fears that more would come and drive their property values down. Soon we saw an onslaught of for sale signs on our street, which became a self-fulfilled prophesy when everyone was selling their house at the same time. Although once a blue-collar stable neighborhood, it became an unstable street of rental properties..........

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
Do you really believe the myth of "it is within themselves and that this country offers the necessary freedoms and opportunities?" And this – “their lacking comes in the form of self-infliction via both personal and cultural values and postures that simply have served to exacerbate their condition and perpetuate their isolation from the conveniences and advantage enjoyed by many.” Sounds like Darwinian economics.
So the claim that this country offers the necessary freedoms and opportunities for its citizens to progress in their placement in life is a myth to you? Steve, really? This seems like an assertion, not from the minimally left but a rather distant left. You base this claim in what? In spite of the overwhelming progress of individuals and groups since our country's founding, you really believe this general principle to be a myth? I can understand if we were in Cuba, it is quite clear progress was ended as a general rule some 50 years ago. I am rather surprised you would use such a strong categorization.

As to the self-inflicted lacking stemming from personal and cultural values, yes I assert that due in large part this is the cause of lack for the majority in this country. Remedies for them must be personal rehabilitation and cultural rehabilitation first(if it is also a contributor and often is). As to calling it Darwinian Economics, that does not work since some forms of Darwinian Economics assume socialism to be the highest order, that which you propose to some degree.

Names or labels do not really concern me unless they serve as a good communicator, here I believe that when one examines the cause of their lacking, they must and should begin with self and group examinations, so Darwinian Economics would fail as an apt term, rather personal responsibility or self-attendance would describe this element of the both micro and macro-economics. The most powerful forces that influence their decision making which results in their lot or placement in life have to be treated primarily. And indisputably this is the individual person and those in their immediate periphery from who and with whom they form values. They must consider whether these factors are properly assisting them in gaining the need they lack and seek. This, I believe, is the general rule.

JobK's picture

First of all, Jesus Christ said that the poor would always be with us. Poverty is an inevitable part of the human condition in all societies because of original sin. To deny this truth because of America's merits is to reject Christianity for paganism. America's positive attributes cannot overcome original sin, nor does it nullify Jesus Christ's teachings. So, for the conservative to blame America's poor for their plight rather than to have compassion on them just as Jesus Christ had compassion on the poor Jews of His time is every bit the rejection of Biblical truth as is the liberal who believes that it is possible to eliminate poverty. The only difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that poverty can be eliminated with socialism, and conservatives believe that it can be eliminated with capitalism and with "values." The bottom line is that both of you believe that the effects of the fall, original sin, on humanity can be overcome by the awesome power of man's greatness because - after all - man is the measure of all things, right? If we were all to just bow to the great virtue of western civilization, then problems like poverty and crime would just disappear, right? Malarky. Hogwash. It is the Tower of Babel, humanist thinking, and conservatives and liberals are fighting over which side gets to run the Tower. I don't care which side wins that battle, and neither does Satan, because the truth is that both sides are going to spend eternity in the lake of fire, so there are no winners, only losers. Both capitalists and communists who reject the Bible in favor of the things of this world are going to burn in hell for eternity, and that was part of the message of the parable of the sower, and of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Look, I spent a lot of my life as a Democrat, a lot of my life as a Republican, and I can tell you that it is 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Democrats and Republicans hire the same lawyers. They hire the same political consultants. They hang out with each other in the same country clubs. They belong to the same groups like the Council on Foreign Relations (which counts among its members Newt Gingrich, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama) and who knows how many secret societies like the Skulls and Bones. In 2008, George Soros was a major contributor to BOTH Barack Obama AND John McCain, so it really didn't matter WHO WON (and that merely scratches the iceberg when you consider how the same money men and powerbrokers control both parties AND many of our "political movements"). This stuff isn't secret information, but in plain view before all. But the problem is that we would rather read HuffingtonPost or Townhall.com or listen to Rush Limbaugh or Jesse Jackson than acknowledge the truth.

Now I agree that Michele Obama's little initiative is not the role of government. But neither was our invasion and occupation of Iraq, which first of all was illegal because it happened without the formal declaration of war that our own Constitution requires (don't fall for the line that the congressional authorization for military force was adequate - or legal - it wasn't), and second of which spent a ton more than $400 million dollars. Look, tens, possibly hundreds, of billions of dollars were funneled to cronies of Dick Cheney and similar in no-bid contracts for work that was either never done or was done shoddily, and no "conservative" ever raised a peep about it, so spending pennies by comparison to open a few grocery stores is supposed to be this constitutional outrage. Had those Iraq reconstruction contracts gone to affirmative action minority contractors under Barack Obama, conservatives would have held Tea Party demonstrations for years, but Bush and Cheney were able to ladle it out to their cronies for years and conservatives never raised a peep about it (other than Rush Limbaugh putting up a paragraph about it once on his website). Now the person who is silent about stuff like the criminal fraud and corruption in the "Iraq reconstruction" fiasco that cost hundreds of billions of dollars (and many lives) but objects to a much smaller proposal to feed the poor has real problems with his theology.

It is amazing how New Testament teaching has gotten turned on its head by both the right and the left in this country. But since these are conservative objections, I will focus on the right. Look, read the Book of James. It tells us to embrace the poor and the powerless, and not to trust the wealthy and powerful. Well, much of conservative Christianity in America does the opposite: exalting the wealthy and powerful, claiming that their wealth and power is evidence of their possessing some spiritual or moral virtue, and while viewing the poor with spite and derision.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree with this-

Quote:
So, for the conservative to blame America's poor for their plight rather than to have compassion on them just as Jesus Christ had compassion on the poor Jews of His time is every bit the rejection of Biblical truth as is the liberal who believes that it is possible to eliminate poverty. The only difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that poverty can be eliminated with socialism, and conservatives believe that it can be eliminated with capitalism and with "values."
as a fair generalization, but I don't agree with this-
Quote:
much of conservative Christianity in America does the opposite: exalting the wealthy and powerful, claiming that their wealth and power is evidence of their possessing some spiritual or moral virtue, and while viewing the poor with spite and derision.

Basically, we are in this mess because the church has abdicated its responsibility to care for the poor to the gov't. There are still many churches, however, with food and clothing pantries, and most charitable organizations are Christian in origin, even if they've strayed away from their initial foundations. But overall I believe we spend too much time thinking gov't has an important and legitimate role in providing the necessities of life for those in poverty through taxation (and I believe their motive is not to care for the poor but to create a base of power on the backs of the needy), instead of each of us as individuals and corporately as a church bearing one another's burdens, caring for the fatherless, widows, and poor. Let's put the responsibility and shame where it belongs. But I do agree that the poor will always be with us and that our goal should not be to eradicate poverty but to fulfill our obligation to alleviate it where and when we are able.

I'd like to see our gov't reduced to basic infrastructure and law enforcement- and that's it. Leave commerce and education etc to the states and communities, and charity with churches and individuals. If there are churches in these food deserts, they can find creative and appropriate ways to address the problem. If there are no churches in these areas, then it sounds like there's a lack of nourishment all right- but not just the physical kind.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

JobK wrote:
First of all, Jesus Christ said that the poor would always be with us. Poverty is an inevitable part of the human condition in all societies because of original sin. To deny this truth because of America's merits is to reject Christianity for paganism. America's positive attributes cannot overcome original sin, nor does it nullify Jesus Christ's teachings. So, for the conservative to blame America's poor for their plight rather than to have compassion on them just as Jesus Christ had compassion on the poor Jews of His time is every bit the rejection of Biblical truth as is the liberal who believes that it is possible to eliminate poverty. The only difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that poverty can be eliminated with socialism, and conservatives believe that it can be eliminated with capitalism and with "values." .
Our Lord did not say why we would always have the poor with us, just that this condition is something that will remain and its comment was with respect to the use of something of value in worship of Christ and had nothing to do with the why or how of lacking. Just as we will always have wealthy people, the Lord did not comment one way or the other regarding what schemes lead to poverty, simply that this condition will be with us. So to assume or claim that prescribing, in a land of opportunity, self-remedies to those who can self-remedy their lacking is an expression of insensitivity or apathy based on this passage, is to ignore the context of the passage or misuse it and ignore the truth that it is self-remedy that aids a man most. In fact, it is of the utmost lack of compassion and disregard for the true logisitical need of a man or group to ignore the most significant contributors of their lacking and attend to the effects, instead, resulting in an exacerbation of the problem and not providing true remedy.

As to original sin, no one is suggesting liberty and opportunity are means to overcoming original sin. So this evocation is meaningless.

But here you seem want to pretend there is one of two options, take responsibility for yourself or have compassion. Such limited considerations will always cripple you in formulating a personal or social antidote. Requiring people and teaching people to take personal and/or cultural responsibility for their condition is not a lack of compassion, it is the very greatest act of compassion. It leads them to personal freedom and bondage to excuse making and irresponsibility that leads to just the condition in which many find themselves. The promotion of the highest order leads to, the highest order.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Susan R wrote:
Basically, we are in this mess because the church has abdicated its responsibility to care for the poor to the gov't. There are still many churches, however, with food and clothing pantries, and most charitable organizations are Christian in origin, even if they've strayed away from their initial foundations.

Susan, I would challenge this concept as a corporate church responsibility. Should Christians be helping meet the needs of their neighbors as they are able? Absolutely! Should the church be opening food banks and handing out rent payments? I don't think so. Charitable organizations run by Christians are great; sidetracking the corporate church from its mandate is not. I think the abdicating of responsibility runs much deeper, at a personal level.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Meeting needs as a church corporately is simply individuals pooling their resources. I don't think the 'church' is such a fragile entity that people are going to spontaneously combust if they bring clothing and food to the church and dispense it in an organized manner. But I also don't believe in the church just passing stuff out indiscriminately.

There are some kids who come to our church whose mother left home. They got lice at school and didn't want to come to church infected. So another lady and I gathered up lice treatment stuff and combs, brought the kids to the church on a Saturday, and treated and combed hair for 8 hours. Funds to feed the kids was supplied by the church. That is the kind of care that people need- a personal relationship and meaningful help- not just handing them money and things and saying "Go home and deal". It's true that many food pantries and such operate in this manner- they open the doors and hand out food and clothing without becoming involved on a personal level. This is much more comfortable than actually getting personal with folks, and you still get to feel good about yourself. Yuck.

Jim's picture

To be helped by the church. (by the way - any individual can help anybody they want)

  • Widows are to be helped by their children and grandchildren (1 Timothy 5:4)
  • There's a class of widows (with specific qualifications .... including over 60 .... etc) that should be helped by the church (1 Tim 5)
  • The truly destitute brother/sister is to be helped (James 2)

How I think we miss what is really taught:

  • We have people who have so screwed up their finances (cc debt, poor work habits, etc) that they are experiencing the consequences of their very poor choices. To help or not? It's your choice but it is not really commanded to help them financially
  • The above need financial education. If they look to the church to help, they need to bare all of their finances and get financial counseling. Else today's financial help will just delay their problem. How to help:
    • Point them to or help them put together a budget using a tool like this budget worksheet available here: http://www.nfcc.org/
    • Help them to build a net worth statement detailing all debt

How the government really hinders help to people

  • It's made many people dependent upon government. It's welfare practices have actually hurt black families
  • It's policies are anti-small businesses (which provide jobs and services)
  • Even efforts (like in Chicago) that were anti-WalMart were anti-poor ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870342600457533918304238364... details : "Wal-Mart has struggled to expand its foothold in Chicago for six years". (Stalemate now broken (same article)
  • There are financial disincentives for working. Why do people retire who could work? Because the marginal tax rate is so high for some recipients of SS benefits that it makes more sense to not work
Steve Davis's picture

This is the title from an article in the Philadelphia newspaper. I offer it only to counter the charge of "Food Desert Scam." http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/106297498.html?viewAll=y

I might also mention how there seems to be less opposition to government intervention and handouts when we are personally the beneficiaries. How many leaning-right, small government citizens traded in their cars for in the cash-for-clunkers program (with over 2 billion in rebates) or took a credit worth thousands of dollars to purchase a house? Or how about the billions of outlays to bail out car companies? I guess it’s okay if it stimulates the economy but 400 million to invest in supermarkets in communities where fewer people benefited from the car rebates or housing credits, forget about it!

Becky Petersen's picture

Daniel wrote:
I have seen this lady walk to our local grocer (probably from our apt complex 1 mile away). No big deal until you drop it to 10 degrees and snow. That is not a joke, I have seen her do this. Couple bags of groceries each time.

This happens all year long here in Poland. It's all a matter of "what you are used to". ifyou are used to walking daily, 1 mile or so, carrying a couple of bags of groceries (either walking or riding a bike). it's tough. No doubt about it, but many people do take public transportation here in Poland to get groceries. i've done it. it's not easy though.

Mostly it's priorities. Not having a car for people who are used to using public transportation just isn't that big of a deal. In fact, some actually choose to not have a car (I can readily think of a couple of blog writers on PF--personal finance who would rather use their money other ways).

Not having a decent grocery store in an area is a problem. I've experienced it. I empathize with anyone who has to pay high retail for groceries because you have no other good stores in the area.

But most of the time, the government isn't the problem. Maybe some financial incentives for someone to do it (tax breaks, etc)...but I hope they stay out of the grocery business!

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
This is the title from an article in the Philadelphia newspaper. I offer it only to counter the charge of "Food Desert Scam." http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/106297498.html?viewAll=y

I might also mention how there seems to be less opposition to government intervention and handouts when we are personally the beneficiaries. How many leaning-right, small government citizens traded in their cars for in the cash-for-clunkers program (with over 2 billion in rebates) or took a credit worth thousands of dollars to purchase a house? Or how about the billions of outlays to bail out car companies? I guess it’s okay if it stimulates the economy but 400 million to invest in supermarkets in communities where fewer people benefited from the car rebates or housing credits, forget about it!

The story fails completely to document how or why the situation developed or is perpetuated. The only remedy mentioned is "if the rest of the city decided to get involved". No interest is shown in exploring the responsibility of the parents or stating that it could be remedied if they took greater responsibility for their lives. But in the end, they are not in a food desert. To describe these people as being in a food desert is to insult genuinely starving people. They may be in a place where fresh fruit is not convenient to them but certainly not inaccessible.

A very telling admission, though, is contained in the article regarding the choice to drink water or sugar drinks:

Quote:
The 8-ounce children's drink known as Little Hug - a brightly colored child-size plastic barrel covered with foil - is "enormously prevalent" in the First District, according to Terri Lipman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

"Kids prefer Hugs to bottled water. Poor African American kids say drinking bottled water is viewed as a white people's thing."

Remember that little point about personal and cultural rehabilitation? Right here for you.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Steve Davis wrote:
I might also mention how there seems to be less opposition to government intervention and handouts when we are personally the beneficiaries. How many leaning-right, small government citizens traded in their cars for in the cash-for-clunkers program (with over 2 billion in rebates) or took a credit worth thousands of dollars to purchase a house? Or how about the billions of outlays to bail out car companies? I guess it’s okay if it stimulates the economy but 400 million to invest in supermarkets in communities where fewer people benefited from the car rebates or housing credits, forget about it!

.. if some people talk out of both sides of their mouth it negates the basic principles we are trying to address? It ISN'T ok for the gov't to bail anyone out, take control of bank and financial institutions and health insurance. And it isn't OK for people to oppose gov't spending and then line up at the gov't cow to see how much they can milk out of the system.

We have a seriously screwed up view of poverty- if anyone has ever been to someplace like the Philippines, where kids walk for miles and line up, at the big pot of rice and fish that the missionaries made, with little coffee mugs and bowls, knowing that it is the only hot meal they might get for 2-3 days- then you know that we in America have no business acting like a lack of automobile ownership, cable tv, computer access, air conditioning and wall-to-wall carpet is actually Poverty. Are we really going to have a case of the vapors if someone has to walk a few miles to a fully stocked grocery store a couple of times a week, where they can load up on meat and potatoes and milk and cheese? Saints preserve us- and they actually have to CARRY it home? Lack of perspective much.

If having access to fresh fruits and veggies was really such an overwhelming desire for families in poverty, shouldn't we see that desire reflected in what someone using gov't assistance purchases? Or - should the gov't limit food stamp purchases to healthier choices?

I don't see how putting a gov't subsidized grocery store in a food desert is suddenly going to result in people eating healthier. It is a scam in that regard.

Steve Davis's picture

Susan R wrote:
I don't see how putting a gov't subsidized grocery store in a food desert is suddenly going to result in people eating healthier. It is a scam in that regard.

You're right. But the point of the article's scam was that there are no food deserts. Whether government should intrude is another fish to fry. My point was that most Americans don't mind government intrusion when it benefits them.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I didn't perceive the author as saying that there are no 'food deserts', but that there is 1) more than one way to interpret data that is being used to support this $400 million program 2) the small percentage of people living more than one mile from a store shouldn't automatically equal a gov't program costing $400 million.

Also, the basis of this new gov't scam program is that

Quote:
American children are growing fat because their parents cannot get to a supermarket -- to buy fruits and vegetables -- without undergoing the hardship of boarding a bus or riding a taxi.

As a consequence, food-desert-dwelling children are forced to eat fast food and junk procured at chain restaurants and convenience stores.

That's why I said that the sudden appearance of a major grocery store in these neighborhoods is not going to result in fresh fruit and salads on every table. Most people make poor food choices because they want to make poor food choices. Every el cheapo chain restaurant I've ever been in served salads, juice, milk, and some even serve fruit and yogurt. No one is 'forcing' anyone to load up on Cheetos and Fruit Roll-Ups.

And on what planet is junk food all that cheap anyway? Have you seen the price of a bag of Ruffles lately? $4.29 at Kroger the last time I looked. That's enough to buy a bag of apples, or 3 cans of fruit/vegetables, or 2 large cans of Healthy Choice vegetable soup...

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Sorry for the brief diversion, but I just noticed this:

Susan R wrote:
Mothers are those wonderful people who can get up in the morning before the smell of coffee.

That's just the opposite in my house! It's the kids or I who make coffee before my wife will start to feel human when getting up. Good line, though!

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

In honor of your wife (who is probably up for sainthood by now) I'll change my sig.

Jim's picture

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/magazine/14fob-consumed-t.html Walgreens Tackles ‘Food Deserts’

Quote:
A drugstore might not seem the obvious venue for solving a grocery-store problem, but Walgreens offered something useful: ubiquity. “That’s the exciting thing about Walgreens, they’re in so many places,” Gallagher says. (It was during her research on Detroit that she was struck by the fact that pharmacies were practically the only mainstream chain presence, aside from fast food, in many neighborhoods.) Thus the pharmacy chain did not have to open new stores in food deserts, because it was already operating in plenty of them, and could use Gallagher’s data to pick locations for its experiment. Still, refitting the stores to offer 750 or so new products, including whole new categories, without expanding their actual size was a big undertaking. (About 20 to 25 percent of the square footage in each participating store is now given over to food.) And Walgreens had to line up new suppliers and adjust to the risks of selling things like lettuce and bananas that can go bad on the shelf if not bought quickly, says Jim Jensen, the chain’s divisional merchandise manager for consumables.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Liberal "food desert" meme fails. A quote from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/health/research/pairing-of-food-desert... ]the article (bold mine):

Quote:
It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Related in Opinion

But two new studies have found something unexpected. Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.

(ironically, the Obama water carriers, the NYT, published the first article)

When I read this article it brought to mind this thread which I am certain should compel some to take inventory regarding their perspective and arguments on the matter.

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