The Centers for Disease Control, First Lady Michelle Obama and federal agencies have made access to fresh food a national issue because of ties between food access and obesity. If you look at the United States Department of Agriculture’s maps of food deserts — urban areas with high poverty and more than one-third of the residents living more than a mile from a fresh food source — you see a big highlight over the East St. Louis area.
So with access already low to the healthy food choices and access high to the convenience store diet of sugar, fat and processed junk food that drives obesity, the news was especially troubling that Schnucks after more than a decade of significant losses was forced to close its East St. Louis store.
Poor diet fuels obesity and a host of associated health problems. Why should you care? Because the cost to the public health system for a lifetime of diabetes supplies is coming out of your pocket.
What can be done? That’s a good question for the new mayor of East St. Louis. It’s a good question for the larger community.
Whether Schnucks is again convinced to stay or someone else enters the market, individuals can make a difference by supporting fresh food choices in East St. Louis.