Today, First Lady Michelle Obama announced nationwide commitments from major food retailers to open or expand over 1,500 stores to help provide healthy, affordable food to millions of people in areas that do not currently have easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Across the country, 23.5 million Americans – including 6.5 million children – live in underserved communities that do not have readily available fresh foods for reasonable prices.
One of the key pillars of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative is to make access to quality, affordable food available so families can get the nutritious meals they need to stay healthy and fight childhood obesity. In the announcement today, the First Lady spoke about the importance of ensuring parents have a choice when shopping for healthy food:
We needed to confront this problem head on. Because we can give people all of the information and advice in the world about healthy eating and exercise. We can talk all we want about calorie counts and recipes and how to serve balanced meals. But if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals, if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local minimart, then all that is just talk. It’s all just talk, and that is not what “Let’s Move” is about.
“Let’s Move” is about giving parents real choices about the food their kids are eating. And if a parent wants to pack a piece of fruit in a child’s lunch, if a parent wants to add some lettuce for a salad at dinner, they shouldn’t have to take three city buses, or pay some expensive taxi to go to another community to make that possible.
Instead, they should have fresh food retailers right in their communities -– places that sell healthy food at reasonable prices, so that they can feed their families in the way that they see fit, because when they have those choices, that can have a real, measurable impact on a family’s health, and we all know that. Studies have shown that people who live in communities with greater access to supermarkets eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and they have lower rates of obesity.