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I've already discussed the"cheese as junk food bill" that's been quickly making it's way through the Republican dominated State Legislature here in the Kingdom of FitzWalkerStan where organic foods, soy milk, as well as sharp cheddar and swiss cheese would be declared junk food.  And you all snarked and cried with me.

I'm sad to report that this additional indignity which will be forced upon the poor, disabled and working poor when this odious thing gets signed into law was supported by quite a number of Democrats, yes, Democrats, during the recent vote to approve it in the State Assembly.  AB 110 passed the Assembly and is now in the GOP dominated State Assembly where it currently resides in the Health and Human Services Committee on it's relentless march to Governor Emperor Walkers vast array of bill signing pens.

Republican poor-bashing is well known.  Along with gay-bashing, minority-bashing, women-bashing, and the rest of their "anybody other than old white gun toting men" bashing, it's become their claim to fame (or would that be infamy?).  But when a thrid of the Democrats join in it's so worthy of dishonorable mention that Mike Tate, Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, has basically, albeit gently, called them out.

While doing so, he pointed out that Cheetos, a "food" we'd all agree is a junk, is actually cheaper than an apple.  Politico, eager an opportunity to call BS on a Democrat, rushed in to fact check.  

Tate spoke after one-third of Democrats in the state Assembly joined Republicans in approving the bill, which aims to cut down on junk food purchases seen as contributing to poor health in low-income families participating in the state’s FoodShare program.

"I’ll be honest with you, I think that having nutritional standards is an important thing," Tate told liberal radio talker John "Sly" Sylvester of Monroe’s WEKZ-FM on May 14, 2013. "I think there is a need for government to play a role in the marketplace and having healthy, nutritious food be available for people on FoodShare that can’t have access to it. "

"You know, I think that it’s a problem that a bag of Cheetos costs less to buy than an apple," he said. "You go around some neighborhoods in Milwaukee and, good luck trying to find an apple or a banana or some sort of healthy option."
And yes, it's true, "Mostly True" as Politico put it.

You might want to check out the full article and/or the associated links on the right hand side of the post.

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The biggest problem people on SNAP experience is lack of access to actual grocery stores.  And this problem exists everywhere in this country.

Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, told us that many FoodShare recipients rely at least in part on convenience stores because they lack transportation to reach supermarkets that can offer fresher and sometimes less expensive products.

Hunger Task Force, which opposes the state legislation as too expensive and complicated, closely tracks food availability in the city and plans to create a corner market emphasizing healthy foods.

Residents in Milwaukee’s lowest socioeconomic-status group have more than twice the saturation of small food outlets as in higher-status neighborhoods, the Milwaukee Health Report 2012 study found. The annual report, by the Center for Urban Population Health, examines health disparities by socioeconomic status.

"There is strong evidence that access to supermarkets rather than smaller grocery/convenience stores correlates with lower prevalence of overweight, obesity, and hypertension," the study said.

I think they should also have mentioned diabetes, which requires special dietary management for optimum control, along with other disorders such as food allergies and lactose intolerance.
A close observer of convenience stores in town commented recently that corner convenience stores are the main food source for Milwaukee’s poor.

"Some stores do have fruits and vegetables, but are likely to be more expensive and of poorer quality, mainly because our nation’s produce distribution system is not geared to service the small mom-and-pop corner stores," Young Kim, executive director of the organization behind the north-side’s Fondy Farmers Market, wrote in May 14 column for Urban Milwaukee. Tate points to Kim’s piece as part of his argument on the difficulty in getting access to fresh fruit.

2008 study by the Neighborhood Health Alliance in Lindsay Heights, for example, found that more than 65% of the neighborhood retail food outlets offered no fresh produce. "Residents indicated that key concerns were: poor food quality, poor access to quality fresh produce and healthy food options, and a lack of transportation," the study found.

"I don’t want to call it a ‘food desert,’" Eric Gass, the Health Department’s public health research and policy director, said of Lindsay Heights. "Food is available. It’s just not good food. There’s a term I’ve heard for that: a ‘food swamp.’"

Residents in the Amani neighborhood, near Lindsay Heights, who lack vehicles or can’t get a ride have to figure out how to cover a mile and a half or more to find a full-service store on the city’s north side, Tussler said. Buses are an option.

"Think bus fare," Tussler said in an email to us. "Then how much can you carry? Then think once a month you pay for a taxi. You buy case goods because they don't spoil. You freeze meat and buy Wonder Bread because it doesn't mold. Then you get milk at the corner store."

If Republicans are really concerned about better food for SNAP recipients, they should address the problem of the lack of grocery stores in poor neighborhoods.   Otherwise, we know that this is a continuation of their blatantly transparant legislative poor-bashing.

Better yet, how about working on making nutritious food less costly than junk food.  Solve that and you help the nation.

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Originally posted to Puddytat on Mon Jun 03, 2013 at 12:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Hunger in America.

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