No Longer Can We Ignore The Lack Of Health And Food Options In Our Inner Cities

There is a food revolution happening right now in our inner cities (a must read). The future of our country and its citizens lies not only in how we value our education system and living conditions, etc, but in the health of our people. Our health care system has been under great focus recently, as it should be. How we have let our health care system become a business dominated by insurance companies and pharmaceutical makers I do not know. How the sick workers who gave their brave lives to spending weeks working on Ground Zero and now can not get insurance coverage (Moore's Sicko) brings tears. This must end. Instead of spending millions of dollars on treating the preventable illnesses (obesity, diabetes, stroke, blindness, limp amputation and kidney failure) that result from little or no health and food resources in low income areas, we must target the problem before it begins. Many programs (The Food Trust, Fresh Food Financing Initiative, urban farmers, to list a few of the many) have sprouted up across America that recognize the immediate need for change and have hit the streets and taken action. Here is some information:

From Gov. Paterson’s press release announcing strategies to expand grocery stores in underserved neighborhoods:

“There are not enough healthy food options in many urban and rural communities throughout New York State. The lack of affordable, nutritious food is negatively impacting the revitalization of many communities, and the health of New Yorkers,” said Governor Paterson.

“With too few supermarkets in neighborhoods across the five boroughs and many existing businesses shutting their doors, much of the city is being affected by supermarket shortages, and a lack of access to affordable, healthy foods,” said Speaker Quinn.

"It was established in 2008 because of concerns that New Yorkers were losing access to fresh, affordable foods. Despite a growth in population in New York City, the number of supermarkets has declined by one third in the past six years. Diabetes rates have doubled in the last 10 years. Childhood obesity has become a public health epidemic. One out of every four New Yorkers under the age of 18 is obese. In many high-poverty areas, the rate is closer to one out of three. For the first time in history, children have a lower life expectancy than their parents.

Obesity causes serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It puts children at greater risk for life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, limb loss, and cancer, and it places an enormous strain on our healthcare system. Last year New York spent $6.1 billion to treat obesity related health problems, the second highest in the nation."

From the report Designed for Disease: The Link Between Local Food Environments and Obesity and Diabetes

"The food environments of lower-income communities and communities of color are of particular concern, given that obesity and diabetes rates are highest in these communities. Lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color have fewer grocery stores and an abundance of fastfood restaurants and convenience stores compared to higher-income and predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods. When grocery stores are not accessible—when residents do not have access to a private vehicle or reliable public transportation, or when grocery stores are not located within short walking distance—residents of these communities often resort to purchasing the generally higher-calorie, lower-nutrient foods sold at nearby convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. These disparities in food access contribute to subsequent chronic health conditions, including obesity, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as well as to higher mortality rates and years of potential life lost."

From The National Fresh Food Financing Initiative

"Millions of Americans in low-income communities and communities of color walk out their front doors and see nothing but fast food and convenience stores selling high-fat, high-sugar processed foods. Residents of rural areas face a different but related challenge—a complete lack of any nearby food options at all. Americans in too many urban and rural communities must travel long distances just to access the fresh food they need to live healthy lives."