#ncga: Eat your veggies. (The honorables ARE watching.)

competeWe’ve all seen those weepy commercials about “food deserts” — geographic areas where folks apparently can’t get access to the kind of stuff you find in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or The Fresh Market. Well, the honorables on Jones Street appear poised to start subsidizing small grocers who want to peddle those kind of wares in areas the honorables feel are underserved. Hence, we have the Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act sponsored by senators Louis Pate and Don Davis:

Ҥ 143B-437.92. Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund.
 (a) Findings. – The General Assembly finds the following:  (1) Overweight children and adults are at greater risk for numerous adverse  health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high  blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers, asthma, low self-esteem,  depression, and other debilitating diseases. In North Carolina, over sixty-five  percent (65%) of adult residents were considered overweight or obese and  over thirty-one percent (31%) of children were considered overweight or  obese. Obese children are at least twice as likely as non-obese children to  become obese adults.

 (2) The medical costs of obesity are rising rapidly in the United States and are  estimated to be one hundred forty-seven billion dollars ($147,000,000,000)  per year. Roughly half of these obesity-related costs are paid by Medicare  and Medicaid, indicating taxpayers bear the majority of the cost for  obesity-related medical care. Obesity-related health care spending accounts  for eight and one-half percent (8.5%) of Medicare spending, eleven and  eight-tenths percent (11.8%) of Medicaid spending, and twelve and  nine-tenths percent (12.9%) of private payer spending.

(3) Many Americans, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, rural  areas, and communities of color, live in communities that lack adequate access to full-service grocery stores. Low-income areas have more than  twice as many convenience stores and four times as many small grocery  stores as high-income areas. Proximity to convenience stores within a  neighborhood is associated with higher rates of obesity and diabetes.wait

 (4) Research indicates that small food stores sell little fresh produce, whole 33 grains, and low-fat dairy products but sell larger quantities of foods that are  high in fat and low in nutrients. Small food stores regularly charge higher 35 prices for food as compared to grocery stores and supermarkets.

That’s all well and good.  I have no objection to (1) and (2).  Section (3) gets a little troublesome.  In most of the areas they are talking about here, you have high poverty and high crime.  Who in their right mind wants to make a major investment in a location like that? Major chains count on drawing people from across a region — not just from the surrounding neighborhood.  It makes sense to set up shop in a neighborhood where people feel reasonably safe.  Who says what “adequate access” is? A Whole Foods within x number of blocks of your house? 

Big chains set up shop where they believe they can turn a profit.  They would be in these so-called “food deserts” in a minute if they thought there was a snowball’s chance of turning a profit. free

And let’s take (4).  Here’s a dirty little secret.  Retailers, in order to stay in business, try to sell only what their regular clientele demand.  Major chains also have the advantage over small stores in terms of economies of scale.  The bigger you are, the more customers you have, the larger your inventory, the lower your unit costs are.  It’s quite often way too expensive for a mom-and-pop store to try to and be a mini-Whole Foods.  Organic foods cost more to produce, and therefore cost more for consumers.  

But — never fear — the NC Department of Commerce is on the case.  They have the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund to help “assist” small grocers who want to set up shop and sell “healthy” foods in these “deserts.”  Yes, boys and girls, we’re talking corporate welfare.   So, we — thanks to Commerce — will now become investors in small grocery operations across the state. 

Instead of pumping taxpayer money into business enterprises — reducing the risk that is so key to capitalism — why not cut back on some red tape and make things easier and more conducive for private grocers to expand their businesses to “underserved” communities?

This legislation is a bad idea on so many levels.  Kill it where it lays. 


8 thoughts on “#ncga: Eat your veggies. (The honorables ARE watching.)

  1. This whole ”food desert” nonsense is one of that nutjob Michelle ”Moochelle” Obama’s crazy fantasies. That GOP legislators are actually giving it any credit by offering this legislation is wacky. Has Obama Republicanism now reached the NC General Assembly?

  2. Better to put some restrictions on the type food that can be purchased with food stamps/ebt cards.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head. Putting healthy food in front of them in the store is not going to make them buy it. They are still going to buy what they want, and it is not the healthy food. Even where poor people have lots of grocery choices, they still make the bad ones. Restricting their ability to buy unhealthy food with food stamps is the only way to change their behavior. Since the taxpayers are paying their food bill, the taxpayers have a right to restrict what they can buy.

      This bill is utter nonsense. If the legislature really cares about obesity, then they need to work on a pilot program to restrict what can be bought with food stamps. Beer and alcohol are already restricted. Maybe they should take a list from Moochelle of what else needs to be prohibited, and then when the welfare parasites complain, the answer can be that Michelle Obama recommended they not buy those foods.

  3. This sounds like such an unconstitutional, hare-brained idea, that I have to wonder if it was spawned by the same half-wit who decided to have Starbucks charge us an obscene price for mediocre coffee and then expect us to hold still for a lecture on race by one of their Leftist baristas.

    You Republican hypocrites had a collective aneurysm, when Obama and the Dems squandered taxpayer dollars on BS boondoggles like Solyndra. You don’t get a pass, either.

    You have no constitutional authority to go into the grocery story business, using our tax dollars.

    Kill this bill! The VOTERS are watching, too. After your votes for $Millions in corporate welfare and a gas tax, if I could get to a voting booth, right now, I would vote to fire ALL your RINO butts!

    1. Stupid bills like this should inspire primaries.

      I heard Rep. Brian Brown of Pitt County, who is apparently a sponsor, on the radio promoting this Big Government crap. He had a primary last time, so maybe he will be primaried again. His opponent ought to hammer him with this stupid bill.

  4. I sat in on the first hearing regarding food deserts. I heard many stories from store owners about burdensome regulations that made it almost impossible to either stay in business or start a new one. They cited specific laws and ordinances that made them lose money, time and profits. Was anyone besides me taking notes? There is no need for subsidies. There is a need for less regulation and smaller government, which is why these lawmakers were elected in the first place.

    1. Cutting regulations is the Republican approach. Why do we have people who pass themselves off as Republican legislators taking the Michelle Obama approach instead??????????

      It looks like we have a big need for real Republicans to run in primaries against some of the poseurs.

  5. The market place is full of examples that are happening right now to meet the demands of rural shoppers. Wal-Mart has introduced the neighborhood store concept and Dollar General is building locations in areas outside of the so called “food desert” (sic). The market has all of the tools and incentives necessary to solve a demand problem and the best part is that it is all voluntary .

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