Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wisconsin Food Deserts & A Place at the Table

Documentary - A Place at the Table
Sometimes things just seem to converge for a reason. Recenlty BAP Steering decided to work on presenting a new documentary film about the hunger crisis in Merica, entitled - A Place At The Table. It's not that we don't have enough food in America, it's that we have too much poverty. The showing is set for 7:00 June 4th at the Plaza Theater in Burlington. Admission is free, but donations are accepted to cover costs. Our costs are also defrayed by by concession sales, so have a beer/wine and some popcorn. Students are encouraged to attend without donation. Please also bring non-perishable food items for donation to Love, Inc. Check out the the trailer starring The Dude! AND see the two women behind this effort on the Daily Show!

At the same time Build a Better Burlington member Karen Tolle is working with student volunteers to grow vegetables for Love, Inc. on the grounds of the 1st Methodist Church here in Burlington. We hear the Karen has absolutely beautiful plot plans and that she is going well beyond tossing a few seeds into the earth. She has found out what veggies are needed and has a trellis planned. Contact her at kltolle@gmail.com if you'd like to volunteer.

Also the Michael Fields Institute in East Troy will be hosting a Summer Film Series that focuses mostly on food safety and availability issues and kicks off Friday June 21st, 7:00 pm with Genetic Roullette: The gamble of our lives, about the dangers of GMO foods.

Meanwhile, out of touch congressional Republicons say let them eat cake as they push for even deeper cuts to the food stamp program than in last year's farm bill. They don't care that 1 of 2 American children will have to rely on food assistance at some point, that 50 million Americans need charity for their food or that food insecurity exists in every county in the U.S. They're too fetus focused to care about actual thinking, feeling Humans Being!

And THEN! Last week, Wisco Republican Representative Dean Kaufert of Neenah got a bill passed through the Wiscossippi Assembly that would require food stamp recipients to spend at least two-thirds of their food budget on "healthy" food. The bill would even treat organic milk and sharp cheddar cheese as junk food - In Wisconsin! Wait, I thought Republicons hated the "Nanny State"? Oh but of course, they Love the "Abusive Father State". You'll do what I say is good for you and you'll like it, or else! . . .

We all wish everyone would eat more healthily, right? But there are Food Deserts present in both urban and rural portions of Wisconsin. You can investigate where these deserts are on the USDA's interactive Food Access Research Atlas.

IF the Republican legislator wrote this bill with a sense of goodwill and is not (in typical GOPster fashion) trying to punish poor people for being poor people,
then he's probably completely oblivious to the fact that lots of people on food assistance will simply lack access to the "healthy" foods he's prescribing because they live a mile or more from a grocery store and don't have a car. So they buy what is available at the Quicky Marts that dot their neighborhoods. Tank you very much, please come again. Guess what, they don't sell fresh peas and carrots at the Seven Eleven!

Mr. Kaufert might also not know or even care to know that healthy foods are more expensive than the ubiquitous cheap, processed, calorie dense foods. Hamburgers are cheaper than peaches. Which is another reason why people of limited means often resort to junk food. Will poor families go hungry because they can't access the foods they are ordered to buy? Will they go hungry because the healthier foods are more expensive than junk food and will burn through their monthly grocery budget much faster? Couldn't Kaufert have used a CARROT as well as the STICK to create incentives to get healthy foods into these deserts and lower they're costs?

And check out where some of these food deserts are. The West Racine neighborhood where I grew up is now a food desert. When I was little, there were several grocery stores in West Racine including an IGA and the Piggly Wiggly. The little stores all closed years ago but when they shuttered the Piggly Wiggly, which people could walk to and moved it out by a shopping mall where No One walks, the desertification was complete. See below.

RACINE, WI - 12% of Households Without a Vehicle =/> 1 Mile From Grocery Store
And it's not just the Urban Centers!

ADAMS, WI - 6% of Households Without a Vehicle =/> 1 Mile From Grocery Store 
WALWORTH, WI - 4% of Households Without a Vehicle =/> 1 Mile From Grocery Store
KENOSHA, WI - 8% of Households Without a Vehicle =/> 1 Mile From Grocery Store

MILWAUKEE, WI - 5% of Households Without a Vehicle =/> 1 Mile From Grocery Store

So if you ain't got the Doh Rey Me boys, just make sure that when you're watching the Green and Gold that it's 2/3 peas and carrots and only 1/3 cheese and crackers. Oh, and make sure that the cheese is sharp cheddar, or you might hurt yourself. FREEDUMB!

No comments: