Final Paper - Michigan Food Deserts Christina Zinkel MC 492...

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Michigan Food Deserts Christina Zinkel MC 492 Professor Kramer
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Being able to meet our basic needs is often assumed in American society today. We assume that everyone has shelter, food and clothing and if they do not they should be able to find their own way to meet their needs. In 2007, the USDA reported that 7% of US households suffered from low food security and that 4.1% suffered from very low food security. Many Americans do not have access to food for a variety of reasons. Getting to food requires transportation and in many areas there is not any available. If there is a mode of transportation it is inconvenient and unreliable. These areas are called food deserts. The State of Michigan defines a food desert as an area where residents have to travel twice as far to a grocery store than a fringe location which specializes in non-food products. Most people stuck in food deserts often end up shopping at fringe outlets where there is little or no healthy food. Food desert residents have higher rates of diet related diseases. They also have low fruit and vegetable consumption. Food deserts are often lower income neighborhoods so these people are stuck in a cycle of unhealthy food consumption. How can this be stopped if only 8% of mainstream supermarkets accept food stamps? There are many strategies which must be implemented if these problems are to be fully addressed. Since about 59% of Michigan’s population lives in an area where there is limited food access this paper will focus on Michigan and the strategies in place to decrease food deserts within this state (Craig). Specifically problems within 5 major cities and smaller rural regions will be discussed. Food deserts affect most of Michigan and these problems can be solved through a combination of these proposed resolutions: increased urban agriculture, more farmers’ markets, reliable transportation and greater acceptance of federal food initiatives. On a state level there have been a few policies and plans to promote changes in food deserts specifically. In 2008, an amendment to the commercial rehabilitation act was passed. The act provides tax incentives to new and expanding businesses within the state. The amendment
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(PA231) extends these incentives to include food stores (SOM). The state is in need of more business growth but especially with the increased need for food resources this amendment is of even greater importance. Providing incentives for businesses to come into the state is just a stepping stone though. There needs to be a push by local governments to get food establishments within their limits so that those citizens having trouble getting to food can have greater access. The state has begun to change the state for the better but meeting these food needs will increase commerce overall because with proper nutrition people will be able to work more and increase the overall economy of where they are living.
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