Eliminating Food Deserts in America


Mrs. Obama:
Right now there are 23. 5 million Americans,
including 6. 5 million children, who live in
what we call food deserts in the inner city and in
rural communities. Secretary Vilsack:
Lots of definitions
of food deserts, but most people basically say
it’s a place where there is not access, easy access,
affordable access, reasonable access
to fresh fruit, vegetables from a grocery store. Ms. Gambrell:
You see a preponderance,
for example, of convenience stores and
fast food restaurants, but very little healthy food
options for those residents. Secretary Vilsack:
We are at the Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, we’re focused
on a tremendous program that they have here to reduce
childhood obesity in this school and also to encourage fresh
food and healthy eating. Mrs. Obama:
Our goal is ambitious. It’s to eliminate food deserts
in America completely in seven years. Tackling the issue of
accessibility and affordability is key to achieving the overall
goal of solving childhood obesity in this generation, and
we saw this example today during our visit to the fresh
grocer at Progress Plaza. The last supermarket that was in
that community closed more than ten years ago. There were kids in that
community who couldn’t get the nutritious food that they
needed during some of the most formative years of their lives. This is happening all
across the country. We’re setting people up for
failure if we don’t fix this. With a modest initial
investment of about $400
million dollars a year, we’re going to use that money to
leverage hundreds of millions more from private and nonprofit
sectors to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers
to underserved communities all across this country. If you can do it here, we
can do it around the country. So let’s move! That’s really the point. [applause] Mrs. Obama:
If we know it can
be done, let’s move, let’s get it done. Let’s give our kids everything
they need and everything they deserve to be the
best that they can be. [applause] Mrs. Obama:
Thank you so much.

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