We Need Complete Streets and Transit, Jobs that Break the Cycle of Poverty, Safe Food and Transparency

1. We need to encourage walking and cycling to help increase physical activity and prevent obesity. To do this, we need to have policies on transportation that encourage walking and cycling for daily travel. Completes Streets are streets that are designed for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit users of all ages.  A bill has been introduced in the senate by Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called the Safe Streets act of 2014. The bill would encourage complete streets by requiring all federally-funded transportation projects, with certain exceptions, to accommodate the safety and convenience of all users in accordance with complete streets policy. For more info, check out this article on Grist.


2. Complete streets also include adequate public transportation. Having access to reliable public transportation may decrease obesity. In fact, one study found that using light rail to commute to work was associated with 81% reduced odds of becoming obese over time and a decrease of 1.18 in Body Mass Index (BMI). That’s great news. Adequate public transportation could also increase access to healthy food. After all, “solving the problem of our food deserts requires addressing transit and income inequality—people need to get to stores and they need to have money to buy food.” Anyone interested in food access should check out the link that discusses how sprawling Atlanta is addressing food deserts. The article begins with one couple, Emma and Charles Davis, who have to complete a 2 hour trip (on a good day) just to buy groceries.  “If everything goes right—the buses are on time and they make every connection—a one-way trip from their apartment to the store takes two hours. But if there’s a glitch, and there’s almost always a glitch, they’re looking at three hours. Each way. By car it takes twenty minutes to cover the same route. There’s another Kroger, half the distance from the one on Moreland Avenue. But the bus to get there is crowded.” Charles cannot take the crowded bus because he has arthritis and no one will give up a seat.

When the Davis’ need to restock before their monthly trip, they go to Super Giant. Super Giant is still a 15 minute bus ride and 30 minute walk (with weekday shcedules) but is prefered to nearby corner stores, which Charles states are “a waste of time and money.”
We also meet Sam Goswami, owner of the Super Giant market, who continues to expand using low interest loans. The story ends with civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis breaking ground on a large community garden in the Super Giant’s parking lot.  Overall, local farming right now is only part of the answer, but should be incorporated as much as possible.

This reminds me of many past home care patients in Cleveland that have similar experiences trying to obtain healthy food, although some of these problems have been improved by increased transit service to Walmart and Steelyard Commons there needs to be more more comprehensive plans to address poverty and food access.


3. To truly break the cycle of poverty, we need more jobs that pay a living wage while improving neighborhoods. Roots of Success does just that by employing young people with green jobs that provide livable wages and benefit the community. The program has been used in 35 states with over 10,000 graduates. Roots of success is coming to Cleveland, check out their facebook page for more information and updates.


4. Now, a few words about food safety. The chicken industry wants to speed up poultry slaughtering and cut inspections. The proposed rule would see speeds increased from the current 140 per minute to as much as 175 per minute. The rule would also decrease the number of federal inspectors assigned to processing plants by 75 percent.” Last year, Tom Fritzsche, a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, authored a study on poultry workers in Alabama. The study found that three-fourths of workers said they had experienced injury or illness due to their work. Three-quarters also said that the speed of the processing line made their job more dangerous. Last Thursday, over 100 groups and businesses, along with nearly 220,000 petitions, sent a letter to President Obama, asking that the proposal be withdrawn.  Check out this article for further information on the proposal.


5. If you don’t think that speeding up poultry inspection is a good idea, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Currently, there is a trade agreement being considered that would allow corporations to challenge any government policies that “infringe on corporate profits.”  If you haven’t heard of it, you are not alone as many media outlets are actively lobbying for it and have given little to no coverage at all. The bill, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, would encourage further imports of cheap and potentially unsafe food from around the world. Furthermore, since corporations could file a lawsuit against any law that hurts profits, they could potentially sue to stop Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL), or any other policy that hurts profits. Congress is considering fast tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would limit debate and prevent congress from modifying the agreement in any way. This is troubling since only recently Congress has been able to view the TPP, and the public continues to be left in the dark. Overall, there is a desperate need for transparency and open discussion. The last thing we should do is allow a bill that has been written behind closed doors by over 600 corporations, and led by administrators paid by large banks to be “fast tracked” and signed by the president. Learn more about the TPP and take action today!


6. The Coalition of Immokalee (CIW) marched in to Wendy’s headquarters in Columbus on Sunday. I have written about the CIW’s Fair Food Program before and noted that Wendy’s and Publix have been some of the last corporations to sign on to the Fair Food Program. From the pictures I saw, it looks like the rally had a great turnout. You can get further updates as they make their way to Publix headquarters on CIW’s website.


7. I am still trying to find time to finish reading the GMO panic-free series. In the meantime, NPR has a nice overview you can check out.

If Walmart could be successful operating in 30314, a zip where the median household income is $22,400, why couldn’t Publix? – See more at: http://www.atlantamagazine.com/features/2014/03/03/stranded-in-atlantas-food-deserts#sthash.NYNEdN1V.dpuf

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