As I’ve mention in previous posts, this issue of food accessibility and the health of low-income Americans is very contentious. There are two fairly obvious opponents in this war: (Mostly Republican) lawmakers and the food industry advocate for low regulation and high profits, which inevitably yields unhealthy food for American consumption. On the other side, poor Americans whose lifestyle relies on a diet heavy in processed/fast food, as well as activists, push for healthier and fresher options in areas that might not have them currently. Since laws are only altered arduously and corporations are not likely to ease up on profits, I see solutions coming from elsewhere.
A place to start would be with fast food restaurants. Healthy fast food does exist. Sweetgreen is a new dining establishment that offers convenient and easy meals made of healthy, fresh ingredients. This middle-ground fast food restaurant would be categorized with Five Guys or Chipotle, certainly convenient but nowhere near as affordable as a McDonalds or Burger King. For this reason, I propose a program where the government provides significant tax breaks to restaurants that adopt a few healthy options that remain affordable. Of course guidelines will have to be set out to define what “healthy” means, but this way anyone can access nutritious foods.
Another proposal that I touched on in my previous post was the idea of establishing community gardens throughout existing food desserts. Doing so would provide fresh fruits and vegetables to communities otherwise lacking these necessities. This could be carried out by a non-profit or governmental institution. If we’re really getting ambitious, governments at the state or federal level could allot block grants to local governments in order to build and maintain these spaces. Not only are these gardens physiologically beneficial, but they are mentally and emotionally beneficial as well. If a combination of these two initiatives were implemented, I believe that both low-income Americans and big business would be satisfied with the results.