Home Class Politics How Grossly Misleading About Food Poverty And American Food Deserts

How Grossly Misleading About Food Poverty And American Food Deserts

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We have one of those Guardian pieces telling us all how appalling the United States is. You know, the oppressed masses wandering through a shattered capitalist wasteland unable to feed themselves sorta things. That this isn’t quite reality can be tested very easily – where do the poor of the world try to get to, into the US or out of it?

But that can’t be true right, capitalist and racist oppression! So, something is constructed to make it all seem worse:

Nationwide the need for aid at food banks and pantries has surged amid worst unemployment rate in modern times

Hmm, gosh. The construction has been going on for some time now. The invention of references which one is not supposed to question:

It’s hectic but the free packed lunches have become a crucial part of their daily nutrition. So everyday at noon the family make the two-mile journey from Homewood, a low income predominantly African American Pittsburgh neighbourhood with no grocery stores, to the East End Community Ministry’s pop-up lunch stall in East Liberty.

No grocery stores in Homewood, right? Well:

There are several what we, in English, would call “corner shops”. And Homewood does seem to be straddled by two Giant Eagles. Sure, that’s not a chain comparable to Waitrose, or Harrod’s Food Hall, but it would put the average Morrison’s etc to shame.

Giant Eagle sells more than 10,000 products under its private label. The products are sold across all categories in its stores.

Just and only it’s own brand stuff is larger than the average Aldi or Lidl total stock. And Squirrel Hill North, apparently the area with the highest household income in the city, doesn’t appear to have more supermarkets than Homewood.

This pandemic has also exposed – and exacerbated – structural inequalities including access to affordable, nutritious food. Overall, almost half the city lives in a food desert – a neighbourhood with high rates of poverty and no supermarket within half a mile – but black residents are disproportionately affected.

A reasonable estimate of the veracity of this food desert idea would therefore be to call bullshit. Loudly. There should be a supermarket every half mile? Really? My rather rich home town of Bath, England, doesn’t manage that.

But sadly, yes, it does get worse:

And it’s not just here: nationwide the demand for aid at food banks and pantries has soared amid unprecedented job losses and the worst unemployment rate in modern times.

Yes, true, unemployment has soared, that’s the coronavirus lockdown for us. And yet, well, there’s a bit missing here. American household incomes have actually gone up, not down. And the poorer you are the more they’ve gone up. The $600 a week unemployment insurance is, for the lower paid, more than their wages were in the first place. Add the stimulus checks and actually the American poor have been making out like bandits this past few months.

And yes, it gets worse again:

“The lunches help a lot, the food is healthy and it fills them up, the food stamps are never enough,” said Davis, 36, who has enough freshly cooked hot dogs, fruit pots, carrots, and milk and juice cartons for her eldest two children who stayed home.

Once a week or so Davis also picks up groceries from the food pantry which provides fresh produce rarely available at her local convenience stores. “I was raised to be humble, and right now I’ve no work so I need help. The alternative would be my kids going hungry.”

Davis is not alone. The number of people relying on the pantry is up 150% compared to pre-pandemic times.

America has an extremely efficient system for getting food to people who need food. These food pantries, food banks. Sure, that it’s being done by plain good folks helpin’ out the neighbours will annoy those who want to employ a bureaucracy to do it but the job is getting done. And rather better than it would be by government as anyone who has ever tried government cheese will know.

Poor Americans gain access to vast amounts of good quality food. The Guardian declares this to be a problem because summat about capitalism and racism. We should probably tell The Guardian to go boil its head.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t realize that I lived in a food desert instead of a real one here in suburbia. I guess that is why I have to put up with emaciated beggars on the way to work. The plight of poor people trying to escape the pestilential hellhole of San Diego for Tijuana is so heartbreaking. The food riots of the past few weeks are spreading. People are now trading carefully hoarded toilet paper for food. This may be the last message I can get out of California before civilization collapses. Courage!

  2. Shows that a ordinary observer cannot be trusted.

    Used to live near Homewood, and I would have swon until I was blue in the face that the inhabitants were mostly obese.

    Little did I know that they weren’t getting enough food.

    Glad the Guardian set my lying eyes straight.

  3. Here in Sunny South Africa we don’t have food deserts in predominantly black neighbourhoods because of the spaza. “A spaza shop also known as a tuck shop is an informal convenience shop business in South Africa, usually run from home. They also serve the purpose of supplementing household incomes of the owners, selling everyday small household items.” But you don’t get them in the Yonited States because they regulate the spit out of everything there and to sell a box of matches takes three hundred and seventeen different permits covered by eight hundred and forty six statutes. I’m probably on the hyperbolically low side here.

    This is what happens when free enterprise is given a chance.

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