WBEZ | food desert http://www.wbez.org/tags/food-desert Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en USDA to crack down on convenience stores that accept food stamps http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/corner store_140320_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recently enacted federal farm bill has a new provision requiring that convenience stores sell healthier food.</p><p>It requires &ldquo;depth of stock&rdquo; on the shelves of convenience stores that are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.</p><p>Depth of stock means more varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and meats.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is really primarily to make sure SNAP households or low-income households or people with limited income have access to healthy foods,&rdquo; said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.</p><p>Concannon said 82 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed at supermarkets or big-box stores. The challenges are the small stores often in low-income neighborhoods. Last year USDA held <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fculture%2Fusda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGOlQP568wSsZPHjrqVQgY-yFPpgA">hearings</a> around the nation about policy changes at convenience stores.</p><p>Food access is a big issue in Chicago food deserts. Gas stations, liquor stores, dollar stores and corner stores are the most common grocers. They accept food stamps, but these retailers are typically repositories for junk food.&nbsp; And a common complaint has been that the USDA food stamp standards are too low and those low standards aren&rsquo;t enforced.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s too minimal, frankly,&rdquo; Concannon said.</p><p>The USDA has to iron out the regulations but officials want the new rules to be in place by the end of the year. Once they are released, there will be a comment period before the changes take effect.</p><p>Concannon said USDA won&rsquo;t object if stores drop out of the program once the stricter regulations are in place. But food stamps are a boon for retailers. Across the country SNAP provides $80 billion in food stamp benefits. In Chicago, researcher Mari Gallagher said the Roseland community, a food desert, has 87 stores that take food stamps, earning on average $5,000 a week.</p><p>Only two of those Roseland stores are &ldquo;mainstream,&rdquo; which means they stock enough options to support a healthy diet on a regular basis. The rest were &ldquo;fringe&rdquo; stores that had limited food choices and specialized in high-fat and high-salt junk food.</p><p>Gallagher said the federal changes are necessary.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m super excited about how fringe stores could improve and serve the community in the future and help their own bottom line,&rdquo; Gallagher said. &ldquo;Being in SNAP is not an inherent right. It&rsquo;s a privilege they need to learn.&rdquo;</p><p>But she wants the USDA to put in safeguards for enforcement.</p><p>&ldquo;People might not be worried about tougher rules because who&rsquo;s going to enforce them?&rdquo; Gallagher suggests that the federal government partner with local public health authorities to ensure compliance.</p><p>Shamar Hemphill, an organizer with Inner-City Muslim Action Network, agrees about accountability. IMAN&rsquo;s approach to help eliminate food deserts is to not wait for a big-box store to come, but to improve existing corner stores where many people shop.</p><p><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fmuslim-coalition-targets-arab-run-stores-food-deserts&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEFUj4BlBCWMPPNR3H1dQxlIrIKnQ">Muslim Run</a> is the name of the campaign and it has expanded to four stores. Organizers have had <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fcorner-stores-become-oases-food-deserts-96575&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHFqby93zdO0vrrMuZT0hfidwKFeA">success</a> in getting fresh produce not only stocked but sold.</p><p>Hemphill said he looks forward to the new federal regulations but change &ldquo;won&rsquo;t happen unless the residents push and demand that these stores operate and carry these staple foods.&rdquo;</p><p>Frank Hafeez manages Halsted Grocery on 71st Street. The liquor-convenience store in Englewood has a tray of lemons, oranges, grapes and wilted green bell peppers. Boxes of potatoes and onions are stacked by the door.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to know more,&rdquo; Hafeez said of the federal regulations. &ldquo;We carry what customers request.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights met about Chicago food deserts at Kennedy-King College on Thursday. The committee will make recommendations on how to eradicate food deserts in the next couple of months.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a><u>&nbsp;</u></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 Whole Foods plans to replicate Detroit success in Englewood http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/whole-foods-plans-replicate-detroit-success-englewood-109140 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_whole foods_SchuminWeb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Englewood and Detroit have a lot in common.</p><p dir="ltr">They are both shorthand for black and urban areas, but they also both include middle-class homeowners and a gritty vibrancy.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, they seemed unlikely candidates for the yuppie favorite Whole Foods Market, given high rates of food insecurity, unemployment and poverty.</p><p dir="ltr">Defying expectations, Whole Foods is the first national grocer to open in Detroit &mdash; a city of 700,000 &mdash; in years. The market is in Midtown, a bustling area near Wayne State University and a medical district, but nearby firebombed homes wither on urban prairie.</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of a recent business day, the Detroit Whole Foods parking lot is packed. Inside, customers of all ages and racial backgrounds stroll the aisles.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One thing that I like that the Whole Foods decor team did was really listen to the community about how they wanted the store to feel aesthetically,&quot; &nbsp;said Store Manager Larry Austin. &quot;They wanted to make sure it felt like Detroit.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">The 21,000-square-foot store teems with Detroit touches &mdash;&nbsp;vintage Motown records dangle from cash registers and cafe tables are made of car scraps. The store hosts classes on vegan nutrition and disc jockeys spin techno music.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;The people here are prideful,&quot; said Austin. &quot;They want you to be real and they have expectations.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">As the chain prepares to open a store at 63rd and Halsted, Englewood residents, movers and shakers can look to the Detroit store as an exmple of what to expect.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">For example, before ground even broke on the Detroit location, residents expressed concern about jobs and transparency. In response, Whole Foods partnered with local nonprofits to hold information sessions on the hiring procecss. Today, 65 percent of the employees are native Detroiters.</p><p dir="ltr">Jobs weren&rsquo;t the only concern. Pricing was, too. Austin says the company listened.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you come to Whole Foods Market and you buy artisan cheeses and artisan olive oil, then yeah, your grocery bill is going go climb,&quot; Austin said. &quot;But if you come and shop staples, you shop our groceries, you shop produce [...] you&rsquo;ll see we got bagged apples right now for $2.99 a bag.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Bus driver Eva Turner lives in Detroit and didn&rsquo;t frequent Whole Foods until this store opened. She loads her cart with pita bread, snap peas, apples, chicken gizzards and hummus.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can find some good bargains,&quot; she said. &quot;For instance, they had the chicken thighs for $1.29 a pound, which is a good deal &#39;cause if you go to a regular store, that&rsquo;s what you&rsquo;re going to pay but it&rsquo;s kind of fresher here.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Detroit Whole Foods offers about 150 local products, from granola to alkaline water.</p><p dir="ltr">Nailah Ellis owns the Detriot company Ellis Island Tropical Tea. She says her&nbsp;bold-red hibiscus tea&nbsp;is a family recipe passed down from her great-grandfather, who was the master chef for Marcus Garvey&rsquo;s Black Star Line.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I&rsquo;m getting ready to also open a production facility in Detroit and once I get that open I&rsquo;ll start creating more flavors and I&rsquo;ll be able to produce more and take on more accounts,&quot; she said. &quot;Whole Foods regional is looking at putting me in the Whole Foods Midwest region.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">One of the players instrumental in gaining community credibility is holistic expert and Detroit native Versandra Kennebrew. Whole Foods offered free space to holistic providers, Kennebrew was one of them, and they hired her to conduct community outreach.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The grand opening day of Whole Foods Market was a day in history for the company, said Kennebrew. &quot;They sold more produce in one day on the grand opening day than than any store that opened in the history of Whole Foods Market.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Whole Foods officials won&rsquo;t release store sales but they say the Detroit location has exceeded expectations. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Like Englewood, the city&rsquo;s reputation elicited sourness when Whole Foods announced its plans.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;People outside view our community [...] think oh you come here I&rsquo;m going to get mugged,&quot; said Carolyn Miller of Ser Metro Detroit, one of the agencies that helped Whole Foods recruit local employees.&nbsp;&quot;[They say] we&rsquo;re just despair. We&rsquo;re not. We have people who want to eat organic food.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Khalilah Gaston runs a community development corporation in a neighborhood just north of the Detroit Whole Foods&nbsp;that aims to fight a history of disinvestment. She says Whole Foods has become a model for other projects coming to the neighborhood. The expectation of giving back is higher.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, Whole Foods is not without its critics.</p><p dir="ltr">Urban farmer Greg Willerer is one of them. He owns a city farm dubbed Brother Nature several miles away from the new Whole Foods, one of many new urban farms in the area that provide fresh food to residents.</p><p dir="ltr">He gives Whole Foods props for its strategic campaign, but he questions the $4.2 million in tax incentives the company received from the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this climate that Whole Foods is coming into where a lot of public money is being given to major corporations and all of these amazing black-owned businesses and other businesses in the city don&rsquo;t get that kind of help,&quot; Willerer said. &quot;Yet we call that development when a corporation comes in and puts up this brilliantly flashy sexy-looking store.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, the age old adage retail attracts retail remains. A month after Whole Foods opened, the national chain Meijer cut the ribbon on its first Detroit store.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em><em>Follow her on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Nov 2013 08:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/whole-foods-plans-replicate-detroit-success-englewood-109140 LINK Card benefits now more nutritious http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/link-card-benefits-now-more-nutritious-107628 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_matalie Maynor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois families who receive government assistance can get more for their money when they head to a farmers&rsquo; market.</p><p>Low-income families who use the LINK card can get twice the dollar value when they use it at farmers&rsquo; markets.</p><p>The LINK card works the same way that food stamps do.</p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced that families can take advantage of the double value coupon program.</p><p>The program is designed to connect low-income residents with nutritious food options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.</p><p>Quinn says many underserved communities have limited access to affordable fresh foods and healthy options sold at farmers markets can be more expensive.</p><p>He says the program helps support Illinois children and the economy, by driving LINK dollars to Illinois farmers.</p><p>But, the programs success may come down to marketing.</p><p>Mari Gallagher, principal with Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, researches food deserts and some social services. She said expanded use of link card benefits poor families across the state who are part of SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Access Program. She said these farmers markets, while typically seasonal, are not in every neighborhood, but are in many areas that low income families can access.</p><p>&ldquo;Incentives like double your bucks increases the value of using it at farmers market. The fact that they can purchase without stigma and complication does benefit the health and wellness of these families.&rdquo;</p><p>Gallagher added that successful marketing will encourage folks to get more for their money.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe the USDA has a number of community partners on the ground. Those partners are really instrumental in getting their people out to the markets.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Gallagher Marketing, it will also help people understand how they can use their LINK card and, in doing so, it can remove some of the stigma, because all vendors will accept the card at participating farmers markets.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to go up sheepishly vendor to vendor,&rdquo; Gallagher said.&nbsp;</p><p>There are currently <a href="http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=44172" target="_blank">59 Farmers Markets</a> across the state that are involved in the program.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Mariam Sobh reports for WBEZ and </em><em>is the Midday and Weekend anchor at WBEZ</em><em>. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/mariamsobh" target="_blank">@mariamsobh</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 07:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/link-card-benefits-now-more-nutritious-107628 Midwest sees increase in food stamps at farmers markets http://www.wbez.org/story/midwest-sees-increase-food-stamps-farmers-markets-95140 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/RS352_AP080501044376-LINK Paul Beaty-lpr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois saw an increase in the number of farmers markets accepting food stamps.</p><p>Financially, that translated into a 112-percent increase in food stamp redemptions.</p><p>The Midwest did better than any other region this year when it came to food stamp usage at farmers markets.Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio all had dramatic surges compared with last year. Likewise, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/more-chicago-farmers-markets-accepting-food-stamps-87241">Chicago experienced an increase</a>.</p><p>Food stamps at farmers markets help low-income families.</p><p>"It’s important to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables," said Audrey Rowe, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Many individuals who are participants in our program live in what are called food deserts. Many of them are not even aware of where they can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables."</p><p>Rowe says red tape was cut for farmers - and that led to an ease in upping the number of markets that accept food stamps.</p><p><strong>Midwest Region Farmers Markets and Direct Marketing Farmers (DMF) Count and Redemption Data</strong></p><table style="width: 633px;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="633"><tbody><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 40px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 Number of Markets/DMF</strong></p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2011 Number of Markets/DMF</strong></p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 SNAP Redemptions</strong></p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2011 SNAP Redemptions</strong></p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 40px;"><p align="center"><strong>2010 / 2011 Redemptions Increase&nbsp; %</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Illinois</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">33</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">48</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$32,600</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$69,320</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>112.64%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Indiana</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">10</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">24</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$8,338</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$20,527</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>146.19%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Michigan</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">80</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">153</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$578,518</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$1,076,611</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>86.10%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Minnesota</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">27</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">44</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$20,007</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$66,652</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>233.14% </strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Ohio</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">56</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">84</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$81,086</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$167,040</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>106.00%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;"><p><strong>Wisconsin</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">25</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">46</p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">$48,962</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center">$77,042</p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>57.35%</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p><strong>Totals</strong></p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>231</strong></p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>399</strong></p></td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center"><strong>$769,511</strong></p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p align="center"><strong>$1,477,192</strong></p></td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p><table style="width: 3px; height: 479px;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 40px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap"><p>&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;"><p align="center">&nbsp;</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width: 81px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 113px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 114px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 98px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 102px; height: 20px;" nowrap="nowrap">&nbsp;</td><td style="width: 124px; height: 20px;">&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>Source: USDA</p></p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 19:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/midwest-sees-increase-food-stamps-farmers-markets-95140 Michelle Obama talks healthy food on South Side http://www.wbez.org/story/michelle-obama-talks-healthy-food-south-side-93470 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/014.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>First Lady Michelle Obama returned to her native South Side Chicago on Tuesday to promote her initiatives on healthy eating for children as well as her quest to eliminate food deserts.</p><p>Obama stopped by a refashioned Walgreens on 75<sup>th</sup> and State Street. Last year the chain started stocking its shelves with fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods where crisp produce is scarce. Often, such food deserts either lack healthy stores or are home to stores where processed and junk foods prevail.</p><p>The First Lady said the issue of food deserts speaks directly to her.</p><p>“I saw this growing up in my own community,” said Obama, who grew up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. “Starting out with wonderful grocery stores but slowly, but surely, as the economies changed, many of these resources just disappeared into thin air. This is true for so many communities across the country. This just isn’t happening in Chicago or on the South Side.</p><p>“If folks want to buy a head of lettuce for a salad or some fruit for their kids’ lunch, they’d have to take two or three buses to do it.”</p><p>Obama invested time and considerable political capital in a program called “Let’s Move,” which aims to reduce childhood obesity.</p><p>Her visit coincides with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s daylong food access summit. Mayors from around the country gathered in Chicago to explore best practices to expand fresh food in underserved communities.</p><p>The summit wasn’t open to the public.</p><p>Emanuel said on Tuesday that 17 new chain stores will be opening on the city’s South and West Sides. They include Save-A-Lot, Roundy’s, Wal-Mart and Aldi. Some of these stores have been in the works. In addition, 19 expanded Walgreens will include fresh food.</p><p>The mayor said new stores are opening on blighted property.</p><p>“What was an eyesore is now an economic opportunity and job creator in our community,” Emanuel said.</p><p>But some Chicago food justice advocates aren’t convinced that chains or big-box stores are the food desert corrective. A group known as Advocates of Urban Agriculture sent a letter to Emanuel on Tuesday that ties food deserts to historic disinvestment in neighborhoods. To the advocates, the issue is just as much economic as it is about good eating.</p><p>“The ‘solution’ to ‘food deserts’ requires attention to and investment in local, neighborhood-based ownership of food enterprises. This includes a full spectrum of activities, from all scales of food production through processing, distribution, and sales, inclusive of the associated goods and services that accompany a full-fledged food economy. A rich, textured, and comprehensive economy will grow the health and wealth of people in their neighborhoods,” the letter said.</p><p>Specifically, the group wants the mayor to hire a food system and enterprise coordinator, work with a Chicago food council and direct healthy food funds to neighborhood-based business owners.</p><p>Emanuel said his food desert plan is comprehensive. He said Walgreens and Aldi have signed a memorandum of understanding to sell locally grown produce from Growing Power, a South Side urban farm.</p><p>This fall, the Chicago City Council passed Emanuel’s urban agriculture ordinance, which strips the red tape from city farming. More farms are starting to open.</p><p>On Tuesday morning, a former contaminated park in Little Village opened as a repurposed organic farm.</p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/michelle-obama-talks-healthy-food-south-side-93470 With grocery bus, West Siders jump on health bandwagon http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/grocery-bus-west-siders-jump-health-bandwagon-87887 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/P1010913.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit1.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>There’s a novel solution bringing relief to food deserts on Chicago’s West Side.</p><p>Sparing the expense of building a bricks and mortar grocery, a group has transformed a decommissioned CTA bus into a mobile, one-aisle produce mart. <a href="http://freshmoves.org/">Fresh Moves Mobile Market</a> carries a mix of conventional and organic fruits and vegetables to parts of Chicago that lack grocery stores and other viable options for healthy eating.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/Edit2.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>We caught up with the bus at the first of its Wednesday stops, in front of the Lawndale Christian Health Center on West Ogden Avenue.</p><p>Right now, Fresh Moves is in service two days a week, rotating between locations in North Lawndale and Austin. The climate-controlled bus will allow them to operate year-round, and Sheelah Muhammad, Fresh Move’s board secretary, says they hope to expand to six days a week. “We want to be like the ice cream truck,” Muhammad says. “You hear the bell and everyone comes running.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit3.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>The project’s senior manager, Dara Cooper, 33, says Fresh Moves uses <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/">standards set by the Environmental Work Group</a> to determine which fruits and vegetables they should carry as organic. “All of the fruits and vegetables that are heavily sprayed with pesticides - kale, collards, cherries, nectarines - we try to buy organic,” Cooper says. “Oranges, bananas, those kinds of things we can buy conventional.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit4.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit5.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Fresh Moves hopes to address a critical problem facing neighborhoods across Chicago.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.marigallagher.com/site_media/dynamic/project_files/Chicago_Food_Desert_Report.pdf">2006 study</a> found that African-Americans in Chicago had the fewest options when it came to grocery shopping, and that black neighborhoods like North Lawndale were among the most cut off from fresh produce. Mari Gallagher, the study’s author, found that in a typical African-American block, “the nearest grocery store is roughly twice as distant as the nearest fast food restaurant.” The impact, Gallagher writes, is severe: “Communities that have no or distant grocery stores…will likely have increased premature death and chronic health conditions.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit6.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Fresh Moves must keep prices competitive if they want to be a viable option for people in the low-income neighborhoods that most need their help. Theodore Thompson, 36, had just finished his morning run when he stepped onto the bus looking for something “nice and juicy” to help him rehydrate. Thompson lives in Lawndale and runs an afterschool program at nearby Lawndale Community Church. He says he found the prices on the bus to be very reasonable, “They actually beat the prices in some of the stores that I shop in,” he says, citing Sam’s Club, Food For Less and Jewel as places where he would normally go. “I’m looking at the mangoes. In the store you might have to pay $1.50 [per mango]. Here, it’s one dollar for one mango!</p><p><img alt="Thompson left with mangoes, plums, and avocados. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit7.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p><img alt="A Fresh Moves customer weighs her options, and her selection. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit8.jpg" title="" height="667" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit9.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Sales associate Jessica White weighs oranges at the register. In addition to cash and debit cards, Fresh Moves was recently approved to accept the Illinois LINK card, which allows food stamp recipients to pay for purchases electronically.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit10.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Sales associate Feguier Epps, 33, helps customer Caritina Almanza, 24, with her purchase. Almanza, who lives on the South Side in Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood, is one of several health center employees who shop on the bus. She is also a social worker who works with mothers and infants who has been recommending the bus to her clients. “I actually told one of my clients about it yesterday; She got excited,” Almanza says. “Having little ones, she’s trying to teach her baby to eat well.”</p><p><img alt="Almanza left with pineapple, broccoli, sweet potatoes and other goodies. " src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edi11.jpg" title="" height="667" width="500"></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit12.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>Marcella Fermoso, 48, lives in Oak Park, IL and works at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in the case management department. She prefers to buy organic, but finds stores like Whole Foods too expensive. “I’m coming back for sure,” she says.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/edit13.jpg" title="" height="375" width="500"></p><p>You can catch the bus Wednesdays and Thursdays for now. Click <a href="http://freshmoves.org/schedule/">here</a> for the full schedule.</p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/grocery-bus-west-siders-jump-health-bandwagon-87887 More Chicago farmers markets accepting food stamps http://www.wbez.org/story/more-chicago-farmers-markets-accepting-food-stamps-87241 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-01/Farmers Market_Flickr_NatalieMaynor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As the summer season begins, Chicago farmers markets are finding new ways to lure shoppers to their produce and fresh products. This year more Chicago farmers markets than ever are accepting food stamps.</p><p>That means more low-income households can buy nourishing food. Accessibility is especially important for families who live in food deserts – communities with a dearth of healthy food options.</p><p><em>Farmers market customer: this is delicious – wow</em></p><p>The 61<sup>st</sup> Street market straddles the Woodlawn and Hyde Park neighborhoods.</p><p>Glossy fruits and&nbsp;vegetables, meats and dairy products are laid out on tables. Freshly baked bread and flaky sweets are on display this Saturday morning.</p><p>And cheeses.</p><p><em>Customer: can I try the goat Gouda?</em></p><p>The 20 vendors set up here are also able to let their customers use&nbsp;Illinois LINK – a debit-like card used like food stamps. That option is&nbsp;important to Victoria Harris.</p><p>HARRIS: Hi, can I try some bread please?</p><p>Harris has loaded up on organic sauces and cheeses so far. She’s at the farmers market because they accept her LINK card.</p><p>HARRIS: I’m 70 years old and these are my grandchildren. I try to feed them nutritiously. And since they take the LINK of course, they enjoy the food.</p><p>She’s guardian of three teenage boys – two are with her today.</p><p>HARRIS: I want them to be exposed to organic food.</p><p>Grandson Alex is looking for an herb plant.</p><p>ALEX: I can incorporate it in eggs and different types of things I cook for breakfast.</p><p>People who push for accessibility to fresh food options want to hear these anecdotes.</p><p>In 2007, only a few city-approved farmers markets accepted LINK. This year there are around 20.</p><p>Connie Spreen is with the Experimental Station, which runs the 61<sup>st</sup> Street Farmers Market. She’s also helping get&nbsp;LINK machines set up at other markets around Chicago.</p><p>SPREEN: The main mission of the market was to try to bring food to the Woodlawn neighborhood and to create a point of access. The Woodlawn neighborhood has been described as a food desert. There is very little access to healthy foods and very few food choices in the neighborhood.</p><p>Here’s how it works for LINK cardholders:</p><p>They shop and decide what they want. The vendor gives them a sheet with the cost of purchase. After they are finished shopping, they go to an on-site station to get the card swiped. They get a receipt and then pick up their items. The vendors are not inconvenienced and the cardholders have a little more privacy.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the Illinois LINK program.</p><p>Alan Shannon works in the Midwest region—he says Chicago is a leader in connecting food stamps and farmers markets.&nbsp;</p><p>And he says….that fits with the USDA’s goal of using LINK and farmers markets to help get rid of food deserts.</p><p>SHANNON: If you excuse the pun, a real hunger for fresh produce in these communities.</p><p>Shannon says getting food stamps into more markets&nbsp;doesn’t cost the agency more money. It’s simply giving food stamp recipients a chance to buy organic and fresh.</p><p>SHANNON: It’s really a win-win. It’s going to help local agriculture, it’s local economic development and it also helps improve the nutrition of Americans accessing our programs.</p><p>Daniel Block is a geography professor at Chicago State University and has done neighborhood mapping around food deserts.</p><p>BLOCK: I believe that interest in underserved communities in things like farmers markets is really growing and I get that mainly through sort of the energy I see on the South Side.</p><p>Last year $11,000 in LINK money was spent at Chicago farmers markets. This season, nearly that much in food stamps has already been spent – just since the end of April.</p></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2011 17:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/more-chicago-farmers-markets-accepting-food-stamps-87241 USDA official visits Chicago, talks about food deserts http://www.wbez.org/story/food-desert/usda-official-visits-chicago-talks-about-food-deserts <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/002_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top U.S. Department of Agriculture official visited a Chicago high school on Thursday to promote healthier school lunches and eat a <a href="http://www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/">winning entry</a> in a student cooking contest. Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton met students from Richards Career Academy. Thornton dined on the students&rsquo; Caribbean-themed lunch, alongside other dignitaries. And 20,000 Chicago Public Schools students throughout the district ate the meal, too.</p> <div>The location of the school, 50<sup>th</sup> and Laflin is symbolic. It&rsquo;s in a <a href="http://www.marigallagher.com/site_media/dynamic/project_files/Chicago_Food_Desert_Report.pdf">food desert</a> &ndash; an area with a dearth of full-service grocery stores and healthy food options.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>A WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans">report examined the food stamp program</a>, which is under USDA. It revealed how many authorized food stamp retailers are actually liquor stores and gas stations, and that these locations often have measly fresh offerings. A common argument from store owners is that few customers demand fresh food -- so, they simply don&rsquo;t stock it.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thornton said the USDA has started a pilot program in Massachusetts that tries to address the limitations of the food stamp program, which is officially known as the <span>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Basically, the idea is to encourage food stamp recipients to buy more fresh produce; if they buy fresh fruits and vegetables, their food stamp dollars go farther. </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It would encourage them to ask for those [fresh items] so that the grocery stores or 7- 11 type places will bring them in,&rdquo; Thornton said.</div> <div>The incentive for retailers is that the fresh item would cost less to food stamp recipients, but the store owner would still receive the original sale value.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s possible this program could come to Chicago.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;If this proves to be a successful model, I think the potential for this expanding is certainly there,&rdquo; Thornton said.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Thornton said such fresh-food subsidies may help solve a serious problem facing children who reside in food deserts. Even if children start <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/">eating healthier </a>at school, they may return to communities that haven&rsquo;t changed.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Still, Thornton says educating kids on how to eat better can make some difference.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The change we&rsquo;re going to see is going to be slow. But as kids in this school and other schools throughout Chicago and throughout the country take part in school gardens, they take part in farmer&rsquo;s tastings. They learn more about the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables &ndash; we&rsquo;re going to see that demand slowly grow.&rdquo;</div></p> Tue, 25 Jan 2011 00:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/food-desert/usda-official-visits-chicago-talks-about-food-deserts Federal food stamp program fails some low-income Chicagoans http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/001.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois uses $2 billion of the federal food stamp program.That translates into a lot of assistance for food, but it doesn&rsquo;t always translate into assistance for healthy food. Parts of Chicago are food deserts &ndash; places where there&rsquo;re few grocery stores with fresh produce and meat. Often, low-income families who rely on food stamps shop at liquor stores, gas stations and dollar stores. A WBEZ investigation found that these retailers make up 30 percent of the food stamp providers in Chicago.These places offer more junk food than fresh food, but the federal government still gives these stores the green light to accept food stamps.&nbsp;</p><p>Caroline Ellis is at Citgo buying gas &hellip; and snacks.</p><div><em>ambi: I want five on one first and I want this on Link.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ellis uses her Link Card, or food stamps, to buy two cans of pop and two bags of chips.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Besides a few bananas near the cash register, there&rsquo;s not much healthy food here. After all, it is a gas station.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>As Ellis pumps gas outside, she explains Citgo is not where she grocery shops.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>ELLIS: See, I have a vehicle. A lot of people don&rsquo;t have vehicles so they not able to get around and they forced to buy this stuff. I can ride past Western on Cicero to get me some fresh fruit, vegetables or whatever I need. I don&rsquo;t buy fruits and vegetables and things like that at a gas station.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ellis is in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. She travels several miles just to shop for fresh groceries.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>That&rsquo;s because she lives in a food desert &ndash; a community lacking healthy food or mainstream grocery stores. More than half a million Chicagoans live in such food deserts. The areas tend to be low-income and minority.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are more than 2200 authorized food stamp retailers in Chicago. WBEZ found that 14 percent are gas stations or liquor stores.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another 15 percent are pharmacies and dollar stores.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>ambi: One Stop Store describing: You see garlic because people like garlic. Lemons, because people like lemons. Green apples&hellip;but you can&rsquo;t put that much out there.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Michael H. works at One-Stop on 73rd and Racine. It&rsquo;s a cross between a dollar store and a corner store. An on-duty butcher cuts meat, but there are only four heads of cabbage, three withered lemons, sweet potatoes and a box of onions. On the other hand, One-Stop is heavy on potato chips and pop. Still, it&rsquo;s an authorized food stamp retailer.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are Michael&rsquo;s thoughts if the federal government ever gave the store a decree for more healthy food:</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>MICHAEL: The thought is real good, but being such a small store&hellip;I would probably say this, I could add it, but I wouldn&rsquo;t have to keep it where I can store it, because people ain&rsquo;t gonna buy it.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>He adds, he&rsquo;d have to raise prices, too.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>I hear arguments like Michael&rsquo;s at a lot of gas stations and liquor stores I visit.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Over and over, they say it&rsquo;s too hard to keep fresh food &hellip; so they don&rsquo;t offer much.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>GALLAGHER: There are two problems with the USDA food stamp retailer program. One, the standards are too low. And two we&rsquo;re not in compliance with the low standards.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mari Gallagher is a national food desert researcher based in Chicago.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>GALLAGHER: The food stamp program is in effect rewarding people who are not playing by the rules and generally these stores that are not playing by the rules are of a lower retail caliber. And they attract more of the same.</div> <div>The U.S. Department of Agriculture does have criteria for SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program&hellip;commonly known as food stamps.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>For one, tobacco and alcohol can&rsquo;t be bought.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Next, there must be at least three varieties of food in four staple food groups.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>They have to offer perishable foods in at least two of these categories: meat, poultry or fish; bread or cereal; vegetables or fruits and finally, dairy products.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>And last &hellip; More than half of the dollar amount of all things sold has to be from the sale of eligible staple foods.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>And, yep &hellip; that&rsquo;s supposed to include gas stations.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>But these rules aren&rsquo;t always followed at outlets that take food stamps.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>ambi of liquor store, bags rustling</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At ER&amp;J Food and Liquor, owner Elias Abuelizam basically admits that he&rsquo;s not adhering to the standards. But when USDA officials visit him, they don&rsquo;t cite him.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>ABUELIZAM: I&rsquo;m a liquor store mostly. I got food and liquor. We sell liquor but food is slow these days but it&rsquo;s okay, it&rsquo;s not that much.</div> <div>Again, there&rsquo;re 2200 stores that accept food stamps in Chicago, but USDA officials say they haven&rsquo;t kicked out even one retailer in fiscal year 2010 for noncompliance.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kevin Concannon is USDA&rsquo;s Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. I ask him if the benchmarks are high enough.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>CONCANNON: I&rsquo;ve asked the question myself to be perfectly frank. It certainly bothers me when I see a sign, the preeminent sign in front of the store is liquor and then the store meets the criteria minimally to be able to process the SNAP program of food stamps.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Concannon says he hopes the 2012 Farm Bill will increase requirements around food stamp choices. His agency points to the growing inclusion of farmer&rsquo;s markets as a way to wipe out food deserts.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>He doesn&rsquo;t accept the rationalization store owners provide &ndash; again, that people just won&rsquo;t buy healthy food. Concannon says a different food program known as Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, has worked.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s expanded food choices. More fruits, less fat. He says there&rsquo;s evidence that when a store offers WIC food &hellip; even people outside the program buy healthier items.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>The problem is &hellip; for now, current food stamp program requirements are still low.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>So in people in food deserts are literally hungry for produce.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are efforts to fill in the gap &hellip;.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>ambi of food pantry: number 41</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Deanna Haymer shows up for some free produce at a food pantry in Chicago&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Five produce trucks come by once a month. On this Friday morning, about 200 people file in for cucumbers, lettuce and grapefruit.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Deanna Haymer loads up her cardboard box.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>ambi: yeah, I know how to cook green beans</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Haymer says her produce options have been dicey. A Food 4 Less store recently opened a few blocks from her, but before that, she shopped at liquor stores and gas stations.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>HAYMER: I&rsquo;m not satisfied with what I get but sometimes you just have to accept what you can get at the time. Like the fruit sometimes it be like mushy or the green peppers be a different color or shriveled up.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Transportation has been a huge problem for Haymer.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>In fact, a lot of low-income families can&rsquo;t drive or use public transit to shop outside their neighborhoods.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Experts say we need to get creative to fix the problem of food deserts and food stamp standards.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>That doesn&rsquo;t just mean getting more mainstream grocery stores to open in food deserts.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>Researcher Mari Gallagher says one idea is to improve all the stores that already accept food stamps.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>GALLAGHER: What if we worked with those stores and said hey, we&rsquo;re going to use carrots and sticks. The ones who are going to have the different types of dairy products and other kind of products that support a healthy diet can stay in the program. And the ones who don&rsquo;t will have to get out. I think that would actually not only improve public health but it would help revitalize the market because stores would have to step up.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>It might not seem fair to let some communities be dominated by dollar or liquor stores.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Gallagher says, with the right tools, those stores could actually increase healthy food options ... and not just be the destinations for junk food that they are right now.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Liquor stores and gas stations <iframe src="http://www.batchgeo.com/map/1d1f724353941d155fd5f15dccc328d1" frameborder="0" width="500" height="600"></iframe> Drug stores and dollar stores <iframe src="http://www.batchgeo.com/map/031d35fa401d23bb26a483aea2eed6e2" frameborder="0" width="500" height="600"></iframe> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML /> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> 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Mon, 22 Nov 2010 22:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans