Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Access for Everyone

While there may be disagreements on how we raise our food, most of us can agree that we want our children to be healthy and eat well. But it's not easy if you have a limited budget. Not everyone can raise a garden and grow the food they need to feed their family. And the truth is that there is a large section of the population that cannot afford to purchase fresh food.

The Woman, Infants and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a federal initiative aimed at boosting health among those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition, obesity, heart disease, cancers, and other health issues by working to supply low income women and children with fresh food they otherwise cannot access. WIC farmers market program provided more than two million Americans with benefits in 2010.

The problem? The 2012 appropriations bill cut its funding by 3o percent. That means more than 300,000 families saw a decrease in their WIC benefits. 

More than 23 million American's don't live near a supermarket. They live in what is now referred to as food deserts, areas where a person has to travel more than a mile to reach a grocery store or market. What they do have easy access to is fast food and convenience stores, which are full of processed foods.

Most farmers markets in America are held in affluent neighborhoods, don't accept food stamps, and can be really intimidating for someone who has no experience with the items on sale. (What exactly do you do with kohlrabi, for example?)

Something to keep in mind: between 1995 and 2010, US farmers received $261.9 billion in subsidies from the government. Ten percent of those subsidies went to 74% of the farmers in this country. The rest of that money went to industrial-scale corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat and rice farmers.

The healthy food movement is an important one and cannot be limited only to those who have a higher income to access it. All children in this country should be given the opportunity to eat well and be healthy. What can we do in our own communities to create more access for those in need? It's something we should be thinking about.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent points, Amber. This reminds me of how wonderful it was when Hy-Vee decided to rebuild the 1st Avenue store--known by a variety of derisive names, but an essential part of its (my!) neighborhood--rather than closing it.

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  2. This is fascinating stuff. I had no idea this WIC program existed. Yeah for the government for offering such a thing. Boo to the government for cutting funding. Why is that not surprising?

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