OKAY, this ain't new to me, but sometimes it drives me to a new level of nuts. This "food desert" crap is pretty much peak bureaucrat bullshit. Back in 2009, the USDA came up with a map that was allegedly going to show where poor people had trouble finding "good" food. If they would have bothered to use factors that are easily available to the federal government, they might have come up with a useful product.
Instead, for the "good" food part they used, exclusively, supermarket locations. The industry definition, and the definition the USDA used is grocers that have all of the general grocery departments that do $2 million or more in annual sales within one mile of the "low income" folks described below. So if you have a neighborhood with Asian, Hispanic, and Indian markets (like the first food desert I examined) they are still deemed as "low access" to food. The added some other levels, like 1/2 mile from a supermarket, since 2009.
Another factor they used was "vehicle access" and it comes from census data. The running lie is that it is 500 people OR 1/3 of a census tract reporting no vehicle access. It ignores free services, like the TWO we have in Knoxville, that will pick up the poor and take them to the grocery store (or dialysis, or many other things). In this county, even the poorest of the poor has vehicle access for the necessities and they do not need to wait for the regular city bus either.
Yet another factor is the poverty measure. If a census tract has >20% households at the poverty level OR the average household income is
When you stick to the 1 mile map of 2009 the neighborhoods you expect were on the map. Areas with government housing complexes, poverty, and few grocers. But all sorts of other places showed up too, like the entire campus of the University of Tennessee, all the dorms, all the frat houses, the Agricultural campus, everything. Which pretty much makes the map cast too big a net and become nearly useless.
Then comes along the first lady in 2010 who decided the way to fix this issue was to "partner" with large grocers (supermarket owners) to bring more supermarkets to the poor. The White House announced that it was directing $400 million per year at the president's wife's project.
Here in Knoxville, the local equivalent of the Daily Worker, known as Metro Pulse, reported the 2011 version of the map. It showed what I described above, college campus census tracts appeared as destitute as the projects.
Something happened between 2011 and 2013. The map changed here and a good chunk of the tracts with public housing projects dropped off. The tracts still numbered 20, but new ones popped up. One was a bit west of where I live. in 2012 a Trader Joe's opened there, and by 2013 it was a food desert. Even more odd, one of Michelle Obama's food desert partners converted part of their store to a grocery.
Also in 2012, the city of Knoxville decided to throw $1.5 million dollars at a developer for the "University Commons" project. Developers are supposed to be developing all on their own and the good ones know how to buy land with their own money, and build stuff that will turn a profit. The ones that build crap that becomes and empty hulk in a few years get $1.5 million dollars from the city.
Their project includes a Publix, in the food desert, pretty close to the new sorority mansion compound.
What about all of this compassionate government crap and the housing projects? No new stores there, and I am pretty sure the residents didn't get any wealthier either. However, they are not in a food desert anymore, so no new Publix for them. No, the city had to raise our property tax to bribe a developer into building a Publix for sorority girls.
It gets even better than that! A charter school wants to open and locate in the low income area I was talking about (Western Heights), but the teacher's union wants to block it. The charter school does not get any more money per student than a regular government school, they just don't have the bureaucrat overhead of the local government schools, plus the local school board still sticks their collective nose into every crack in the place anyway. The teacher demonstration I recorded yesterday on Market Square Mall was indeed the whitest gathering of people I've ever seen in this town. Whiter than #FFFFFF. By the way, that demonstration was in another food desert, surrounded by fancy pants eateries and expensive condos.
Pissed me off so much I have not been able to narrate the latest video hardly anybody is going to see anyway.
In other news, I start a new job tomorrow.