"How can we eat healthy if we can't buy healthy food where we live?" This is a question that 23.5 million people, over a quarter of them children, must face every day. That's because they live in "food deserts," communities where healthy, affordable food is hard to come by. The city of Baldwin Park in Los Angeles County, for example, has "6 fast food restaurants and a convenience store for every 1 grocery store," according to Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano.
Yesterday Mayor Lozano joined First Lady Michelle Obama and other stakeholders in the childhood obesity crisis to announce a new initiative to expand access to healthy food. Major food retailers such as SUPERVALU, Walmart, and Walgreens will be building new stores or expanding existing ones in communities that currently have limited access to fresh food.
Here in California, the FreshWorks Fund will provide $200 million to encourage retailers to build new grocery stores in underserved areas and help existing stores get the equipment they need -- such as refrigerated cases -- to stock fresh, healthy food.
We are hopeful that this initiative will make it easier and more affordable for families in Los Angeles, and across the nation, to get the good nutrition they need. As the First Lady put it, "No child should be consigned to a life of poor health because of the neighborhood that his or her family lives in."
View part of First Lady Michelle Obama's speech below: