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Groceries cost more for the poor

The Fresno Bee devoted more than 2,000 words on Saturday to a sad but real paradox in the San Joaquin Valley. Low-income people pay more for their food than people who make more money.

The prime reason: low-income areas aren't served by large supermarkets, forcing people with limited transportation to purchase staples like bread and milk at corner markets and convenience stores.

The first expert cited in the lengthy piece was UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Connie Schneider.

She said poor people know they are paying exorbitant prices for food at small stores, but the next opportunity to shop at a supermarket could be weeks away.

"When you're hungry, you're looking at something to fill a stomach," Schneider was quoted.

Fresno Bee writers Barbara Anderson and Bethany Clough delineated the fallout from inadequate access to healthy food:
  • The risk of obesity and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, increases, straining health-care resources
  • Children without proper nutrition become sicker, stay sick longer and miss more days of school
  • Lower academic performance leads to higher dropout rates and to more adults without the skills necessary to secure well-paying jobs
On the Bee's Web site, the story was accompanied by two brief videos. One was an interview with a woman who rides her bike to a discount supermarket nearly every day and also shops at the dollar store, where she can pick up inexpensive eggs and bread. The other video, with only background audio, shows families - including many young children and senior citizens - lining up for free produce in Strathmore.

The story seems to have struck a cord with area readers. As of Monday morning, 25 comments had been posted, many of them expressing frustration at being faced with a problem that has no easy solution.

Wrote one: "Maybe the two writers of this article could open a grocery store in a poor neighborhood. They could then sell healthy food for a loss instead of implying that the major chains are somehow at fault for not doing so. Contrary to what the writers seem to think, grocery stores are not charities. The stores actually have to show a profit to stay in business."
Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 at 11:51 AM
Tags: low income (1), nutrition (71)

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