So often when we look at America's weight problem it's seen as a series of choices: if people just choose fruits and vegetables over fried food and fat that would solve the problem. But millions of Americans live in places where access to fresh food simply doesn't exist, including thousands in northeast Ohio. ideastream®'s Eric Wellman reports.
Rembert: My name is Annie Rembert and my age is 85.
Rembert lives in a low income apartment complex for seniors just off of Broadway. Dave’s the nearest full service supermarket is a couple of miles away. She and her neighbors used to take the free community circulator there all the time. But late last year that service went away in a round of RTA cuts.
Rembert: There ain't no bus that goes to Dave’s no more. I have to pay someone to take me.
Rembert, who lives on a very limited income, says she pays a driver $10-$20 to take her on the short trip. Her neighbor Yvonne Richmond says technically it is possible to get to Dave’s by bus...but....
Richmond: Fleet to miles, catch the 50, go to Harvard, walk up to Dave’s and get...how much...you can’t carry but so much.
What’s ironic is that places called food deserts have among the highest rates of obesity in the country.
The food desert issue has garnered attention on a national scale. The Obama administration has pledged 400-million dollars to help attract grocers to under served areas in the form of tax breaks, low interest loans and other incentives. Pennsylvania has done just that. Mark Winne is the author of Closing the Food Gap. He says Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative could serve as a national model.
Winne: It’s developed over 70 supermarkets both in rural and urban areas and along the way was the creation of 45 hundred new jobs.