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April 21, 2019

Dear Mayor Schaaf:

We are writing to you because it’s absurd how few grocery stores are in Oakland. Based on our research on Yelp we found that there were no grocery stores between 73rd and 105th. Since a lot of people live between the 73rd and 105th having a big grocery store would make people able to get the fruits and veggies they need. Since you are the mayor of Oakland we believe that you have the power to provide better access to fresh, healthy food.   . Grocery stores in the flat lands will prevent health risks in the community. As students and residents we believe that having healthy food options is a big step towards a healthy lifestyle serving the community. We wanted to interrupt the cycle of unhealthy eating by having local grocery stores and supersede the liquor stores with grocery stores filled with healthy options.

Issue

The issue at stake is that there aren’t many grocery stores in Oakland. Instead there are several liquor stores which sell foods that are low priced, but are also unhealthy and have no source of nutrients for ones body. Foods in liquor stores may seem innocuous but it would slowly harm and increase the risk of health concerns. In addition, “healthy” foods are something what overpriced in liquor stores which leads low income families to have no option but to buy junk food because they can’t afford to buy nutritious foods. Adhering to healthy food options is crucial for good health. Therefore, it’s important to abstain from the liquor stores. In fact, due to the classism in California only folks who live in the flatlands (the community between the 580 and 880 freeway) are being impacted by this issue as you can see because they have less resources and more economic issues than those who live in the hills (high income families). Unfortunately, since some families are low income they have to choose between eating junk food or eating nothing at all, you either eat something that’s not nutritious or starve. Also, liquor stores as you may know mostly contain tons of junk foods like chips, sugary beverages, candy, and etc. (all processed/ unhealthy).  In comparison, grocery stores do include vegetables, fruits, and fresh meats which are all components of us being able to make our own healthy and fresh meals at home. This way we get the nutrients we need and we are keeping our bodies healthy and stable. Although, not all families have the opportunity to buy ingredientes everyday to cook their own meals. The problem is that overtime eating too much junk food impacts one’s health and we begin to face several health risks. For example, in an online article titled “Food Empowerment” it stated, “dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., also limit the food choices of those who do not have access to larger chain stores that have more selection” (Food Empowerment). This indeed, shows that the flatlands (low-income) have less variety of food they can choose from not only because of the cost but also since there isn’t many grocery stores around the community that are affordable and provide healthy food choices. This also is affecting those with health issues as well because they aren’t having access to foods they need in order to follow a diet to keep them stabilized. As you can see, everyone in the flatlands is being impacted by this issue because some already have health concerns that require certain restrictions in their daily diet and others have economic issues which makes it difficult for them to have a healthy eating lifestyle. Furthermore, going back to the problem with classism, the low-income communities as you may see yourself do include more liquor stores that actual grocery stores. For example, in the 70s-100’s there is almost 1 liquor store every 5-7 blocks which only have junk food. Some may have a couple of apples or onions but that’s about it which isn’t only sometimes expensive but there isn’t a variety of food for our community members so the amount of healthy foods are inadequate. In fact, in an article  online it said, “areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up a full and healthy diet.” According to the CDC, Many Americans living in rural, minority, or low-income areas are subjected to food deserts and may be unable to access affordable, healthy foods, leaving their diets lacking essential nutrients” (Haskell Scott). This is due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers. Food deserts have become a large problem helping to fuel our national obesity and diabetes epidemic. Rural areas commonly have local convenience stores that provide mostly highly-processed, fattening and sugar-added food and drinks. Many rural Americans have limited access to affordable, nutritious foods because they do not live near a full-spectrum supermarket or large grocery store.” This does explain that, those who are low income do not have as many options to healthy and nutritious foods due to their economic stand and the fact that there isn’t many grocery stores around our community. All we have is several stores with calorie dense and high processed food which can increase the health risks that leads to obesity and diabetes. Since junk food has multiple artificial flavors and ingredientes the food contains many calories. The more calories we intake the more we will gain weight which in this case is unhealthy weight since it’s junk food being eaten. All of this is very upsetting and unfair because those who  live in the low income lands have not only less opportunities but we aren’t given the resources we need in order to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle. Why keep opening up more liquor stores instead of building more grocery stores or having more farmers markets? It isn’t our fault that the obesity and diabetes rates are increasing over the years, if so many liquor stores wouldn’t continue to open then there wouldn’t be so many people buying junk food and if healthy foods weren’t so overpriced we would all be able to eat good and nutritious food which would decrease obesity and diabetes rates! So as predecessors of the future we believe that having more grocery stores will decrease the health risks of the Oakland community and will result in feeling healthy!

Tactical Change

In the past few years many movements and actions have been taken to address food deserts. For example, Kent State  used education and propaganda because they have their own website in order to spread the word of the presence of food deserts in the United States. They made infographics about how there is nearly 323 million individuals who live in the United States and 7%  of these people live in a food desert (Starving for a Solution in America’s Food Deserts | Kent State MPH).

In addition, another tactic of change that has been used over the past years is political organizing which is being done by CSI, Center for Social Inclusion. They have been working with local leaders of color to support equity in food and farm policies. Overall, these folks work with programs like SNAP to help pay farmers in rural areas to try and haver farm workers get the pay they deserve for their hard working. As you can see, these are successful tactics for food equity because this issue is impacting the community of color and if everyone else was able to create a change using several methods to reach their goal we can too, #saynotofd!

We truly believe that by creating a movement as a community we can impact a plethora of people in order to create a change in our community. We want to propose creating rooftop garden for the schools in Oakland, more farmers markets, and some grocery stores in our community to better the eating habits of our Oakland Citizens and our community.  

A rooftop garden would be a good way to cope with food availability in our community. The rooftop garden would have fruits and vegetables grown in our schools. There would be adult supervision, of course, and the rooftop garden would only be open to specific people to go on top of the roof just to pick the fruits/veggies, water plants, and take care of the garden by going up and making sure everything is in order for safety purposes. There are many benefits to having a rooftop garden. The rooftop provides more space and there’s also a lot of sunlight provided for the plants. If it’s raining then there would be rain for the plants as well which will help them grow and stay in good condition.

We would like more grocery stores in our area because they would be easy to access and we will not have to travel far distances in order to get a hold of healthy foods. The grocery stores would also help save more gas money since residents will be able to walk to grocery stores since they would be in their local area.

It would be a incredible idea to  have more farmers markets around in our community. A few years ago we use to have farmers market at school in which parents and students would be able to buy fruits and veggies but unfortunately we don’t have them anymore. Farmer markets seem to have vanished completely in our area. If we were to have more farmers markets  community members will be able to buy foods like fruits and veggies which are at a low cost!

As upstanders for food deserts we believe that the first move to put an end to food deserts would be by using propaganda to spread the word of ending food deserts and fighting for the rights and health of our communities. For example, we created an Instagram as a team which is “@oaklandfooddeserts” to persuade not only our community members but hopefully people outside of our community to view how important this issue is. The more this is talked about and viewed the faster the word would spread, which would help us take action and do something to solve this problem. In order to catch everyone’s attention our upstander Instagram page would provide pictures of Oakland and the foods available to us. We will try to provide data which will show numbers and percentages of food deserts in our community in order to prove our point. Overall, this Instagram page will include a variety of pictures and data sets to show the media how there should be an end to classism, unfairness, and #saynotofd!

We are proposing  that there should be more grocery stores, rooftop gardens, and farmers markets to you, Mayor Schaaf, Since you’ve dedicated (and continue to) so much time and passion to Oakland. We are very confident in our plan because it incorporates making our community healthier and attempting to reduce the cost of good nutritious food we should all have access to. Everyone loves cheap food prices but a con to this is that the foods that are cheap in our community specifically are mostly junk food. In fact, the most expensive foods are the the healthy and full with nutrients our body needs which shouldn’t be this way neither should it stay like this. There are so many parents who want the best for their kids/families and eating healthy is a great start to a child’s health because they will be able to grow strong and full of nutrients their body needs. In sum, our point is that in our communities their isn’t good healthy foods which is causing people to have more health issues. If we were to have more grocery stores, farmers markets, and reduce food prices then diabetes and obesity rates will drop and our community members would live a happier and healthier life. We know that building grocery stores costs money but farmers markets on the other hand aren’t expensive. We can close a street or 2 every saturday and announce the farmers markets  on posters or on social media to have community members join us and buy their fruits and vegetables at low prices. It’s a win for not only our communities but also for those who are low income and can’t afford to spend too much money. We as young adults are suggesting this to you because we don’t want our future to deal with this exact problem, this is our home and we want to better it everyday as much ways as possible!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to read our letter, we truly appreciate your time Mayor!

Sincerely,

 Jessica A Ponce Corona, Christy Vong, and Jose Rivas Macario

Bibliography:

“Mayor Libby Schaaf.” City of Oakland, Oaklands City Council Members, 18 Apr. 2019, www.oaklandca.gov/officials/libby-schaaf#page-services.

   This source is credible because this website gives information or needs that our community has questions on. There’s also request forms to the Oakland Mayor if there is a request needed. It doesn’t have to be a request though. It can be needs, interviews, and questions. The website has a section about our Mayor Libby Schaaf and the services she provides.

“Food Deserts” Food Empowerment Project, foodispower.org/access-health/food-deserts/

This article, was about how we have stores available to us but some of the issues are that most only have junk food which harm our health. Even though liquor stores have “fruits and vegetables” they tend to be more expensive which makes “low income” families not have access to these foods. Food Empowerment is credible because it’s an organization which isn’t advertising any stores or websites in which they can profit from. The articles strengths are that they don’t only deeply explain the issue but they also give the reader ways in which they can solve the problem in the community. We chose to include it in my research because this article provides multiple pieces of evidence and who/what it’s affecting in our communities.

Haskell, Scott. “The Paradox of Food Deserts.” Food@MSU, 7 Mar. 2019, www.canr.msu.edu/news/the-paradox-of-food-deserts.

This source is credible because it is a university who has done individual research based on communities all over California. I’ve decided to put this information because it includes realistic data and facts which supports our point. The more realistic data we have the more support our issue will get! Overall, this website explains the issues in different communities as well as certain actions we can do in order to solve or better this issue.

Starving for a Solution in America’s Food Deserts | Kent State MPH. (2018, September 13). Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/college-of-public-health/public-health/community/causes-of-food-deserts

This is credible because the article has data that was collected by them. They are using real life data in order to prove their point and show how big of an issue food deserts are. Overall, this website did not have an incredible amount of ads and neither did it have any spelling or grammar mistakes, it was well written and professional.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Food Deserts by Christy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Comments
  1. Karina 1 month ago

    Hi Christy,
    I was very pleased about reading your post on “Food Deserts”. I never knew about this issue until now, and I think you did a great job discussing your issue. The fact that you not only discuss your issue and directing your attention to someone who can help, Mayor Schaaf, as well as discussing solutions that don’t necessarily mean more supermarkets. One thing that stood out to me was “This is due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers. Food deserts have become a large problem helping to fuel our national obesity and diabetes epidemic. Rural areas commonly have local convenience stores that provide mostly highly-processed, fattening and sugar-added food and drinks” because it told me how exactly this can affect me or someone I know if they were facing this issue; and I wouldn’t want that. It’s much easier to call attention to an issue that is affecting our lives negatively and how we can improve it. To add, your interest in providing another solution was very helpful for those who feel that creating another supermarket might not be feasible. Moreover, you helped build a general idea on how others can organize a rooftop garden to assist in ameliorating the problem such as the “rooftop garden would have fruits and vegetables grown in our schools. There would be adult supervision, of course, and the rooftop garden would only be open to specific people to go on top of the roof…” Thanks for writing this post. I hope to learn even more about this issue and see if you will be as successful as I imagine. I also have a similar cause but not nearly as significant, which is building a community garden. If you’d like you could visit if your interested at https://projectgarden.home.blog/. I hope to inspire others like you inspired me about improving the issue on food deserts as well as making or having such an important cause.

  2. Sarah 2 months ago

    Hi Chrisy, you did a great job on this post. You had a very good argument and backed it up with really important facts. These points that were made are true and it should be announced that Oakland should get another grocery store. Making sure everyone is available to get the right nutrients and foods for their body is key for a healthy lifestyle. You’re idea of a rooftop garden is very creative and effective as well. With not have the resources from a grocery store can make eating organically very hard to do. With the rooftop it makes your idea perfect! Overall, great job and I enjoyed reading what you had to say.

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