JUNE 06, 2011
Reportedly strapped for cash, the U.S. government is on a full-throttle spending frenzy to transform the inner-city diet by providing “low-income” neighborhoods with healthy foods prevalent in more affluent suburban tracts.The Obama Administration has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to the cause in the last few weeks alone and this month it announced another $10 million infusion. It’s part of the First Lady’s $4.5 billion effort to bring affordable healthy fare such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk to neighborhoods determined to be “food deserts.”Basically the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disperses huge sums of money to community groups that promise to make available affordable healthy foods in poor neighborhoods. A few days ago the agency announced that it is doling out $10 million in grants as part of a Farmers Market Promotion Programthat will bring fresh food to rural and urban food deserts across the country.Last year the program received half the funding, according to the USDA’s own announcement. The $10 million will go to agricultural cooperatives, local governments, nonprofit corporations, tribal governments and public benefit corporations, according to the USDA press release announcing the program.Last month, the USDA launched a costly internet-based mapping tool (“Food Desert Locator”) that identifies areas with “limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.” The sophisticated online program will assist efforts to expand the availability of healthy foods in low-income communities that lack “ready access” to it, according to Obama’s USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack.A few days later the administration announced that more than $100 million in Obamacare grants to “reduce health disparities” between minorities and whites will also go to conquering food deserts in urban areas. In fact the agency dishing out that stash of taxpayer money, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is encouraging groups that can help eliminate “food deserts” to apply for the new “community transformation grants.”
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