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  • A Fannie and Freddie for Food?


    Paul Krugman will forever deny Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s role in the housing bubble, but there is a reason Americans are now more skeptical of Washington than ever. But the Obama administration does not care what Americans think. Instead they want to do for food what Fannie and Freddie did for housing. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website reports:

    As part of the President’s proposed FY 2011 budget, the Administration announced a new program – the Healthy Food Financing Initiative — a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health and Human Services which will invest $400 million a year to provide innovative financing to bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places such as convenience stores and bodegas carry healthier food options. … Through these initiatives and private sector engagement, the Administration will work to eliminate food deserts across the country within seven years.

    Because that is what the grocery industry needs: the federal government as a business partner. What could go wrong? After all, agriculture subsidies have done such wonders for farming.

    And just what is the problem crying out for a government takeover of the grocery industry? What are these “food deserts” the Obama administration speaks of? Let’s Move again:

    More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile from a supermarket. These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited, are known as food deserts.

    People have to walk all of one mile to get to a supermarket? That is what qualifies as a “food desert”?

    This is, yet again, an  Obama administration government takeover solution in search of a problem.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    38 Responses to A Fannie and Freddie for Food?

    1. Linn, PA says:

      Really you have to have a grocery store withing a mile to not be in a food desert. So even though there are 5 grocery stores close to my house that will often shop at I am hard pressed to get nutritious food. Good thing I didn't skip lunch today other wise I could also be counted among the starving in this country too.

    2. debby, new york says:

      Now that is just absurd! I live in a rural area more than a mile from a grocery store. But imagine having a store within a mile from my home to provide food to the 5 households in that mile range. This idea quickly morphs into a "community pantry" and that conjures up commune-esque images to me, including standing in "early-bird" lines to get the best choices, as well as scarcity and rationing of selections. Instead, tax me less so I can use the extra money to make the journey either 5 miles to a supermarket or 25 miles to a super-supermarket (and I want it to be my choice).

    3. Tnacgal says:

      Seriously? Seriously!!! What about the exercise they could get from the walk? Guess mrs Obama will call for an end to " exercise deserts" next and get funding for a 24 hr fitness next to the stores. And they'll be sub'd with more taxes to encourage people to join. There is no end to the absurdities of this administration. Lord help us… if we survive them it will take years to clean up their mess!!!

    4. Ken Mitchell says:

      The problem, of course, that those urban areas without supermarkets generally don't have them because the community organizers of the neighborhood didn't want to drive the local mom n' pop bodega out of business, or because the crime rates are so high that no store can make a profit.

    5. Billie says:

      I'd like Mr and Mrs. President to address the nation as to why their choices regarding our personal conduct, is any of their business in a free country? Also, why is it right for them to spend one tax dollar dime, on peoples personal choices to conduct their lives the way they use their freedom of choice to do so?

      Oh, the Mrs.doesn't set a good example. the smoker doesn't set a good example either! hmm… a definite indication this is nothing but waste, corruption, stealing of freedom and human dignity

      Americans do for themselves and face the consequences they may and figure it out they do. The American government represents themselves as power grabbing, control freaks of Americans.

    6. John says:

      I live in rural Texas, its 18 miles for a cup of coffee, only in Washington could they be this disconnected.

    7. Mason Kidd, IL says:

      The First Lady's efforts are typical ineffectual liberal feel goodness. If you've watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, it is evident that the biggest contributor to childhood obesity is the USDA's requirements on the school lunch program. If she was serious about actually fixing the problem, she would tell her husband, who is ultimately in charge of the USDA, to fix the horrible meals these requirements are forcing the schools to feed our kids.

    8. john says:

      I don't have a car and I live 2 miles from the nearest grocery store; clearly you all must start sending me money.

    9. JKB, TN says:

      A mile from a supermarket? I, now live about 1.5 mile from a small discount grocery store but that is just because I live near a crossroads. It is 1/10th of a mile to the road. After that, there is nothing for 8 miles. Note to the Obama's, it is call "the country". Out here, it is rare to live within 10 miles of grocery store and I live within 30 miles of a major city, 10 miles of a secondary city. You plan your shopping for on the way home.

      As for urban food deserts, well, we'd have a lot fewer if they'd quit mounting efforts to keep Walmart out of the areas. But the real problem with urban grocery stores is the shoplifting. Try going to one and experience shopping in an surveillance world.

      The best part of their plan is to pay convenience stores and bodegas to carry food that people won't buy and they have to throw out when it spoils.

    10. ic says:

      Walk one mile to a supermarket is too much walk.

      Everyone should buy their food not more than a block from their homes. Then the kick-ass president would decree that everyone is entitled to work-outs in a gym paid for by the fed. Afterall we must keep the citizens healthy, not add more costs to the healthcare system. All gyms must provide ass-kicking classes.

    11. Peter, Wills Point, says:

      I moved out to this "food desert" on purpose when I retired. We are 9.6 miles from the nearest supermarket and 3.6 miles from the nearest State Highway. We moved out here so we couldn't hear our neighbor's stereo.

      Before I retired I knew a little bit about why there are no supermarkets in the poorest areas of the cities. It's because of the crime. Take away the appalling crime of the underclass and supermarkets would be profitable. A supermarket makes just as much selling something for food stamps as it does selling for cash, after all. At least until the Democrats completely break the Treasury.

    12. John Skookum says:

      And why are there "food deserts" in our poor urban neighborhoods? Because the locals burned down the supermarkets that used to serve them, that's why.

      Even when they are not rioting, their customers commit far more shoplifting, robbery and other crimes that make it hard to run a low-margin business like a grocery store.

      The communities that are underserved by supermarkets have only themselves to blame. Why should the supermarket chains rebuild in places like that?

    13. frank utah says:

      yes, please just shelve your ideology and pay down the debt you've exploded since you took over. I can buy my own food.

    14. Don in AZ says:

      I live in Tucson. I knew I lived in a desert. This article made me realize I live close to five whole miles from a grocery store. I live in a food desert too!

      A food desert desert.

      Would that be food 2 desert? Or food desert squared?

    15. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » WHAT COULD GO WRONG? A Fannie and Freddie for Food?…

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    17. Peter, Australia says:

      I live in Australia. My nearest grocery store is 35 miles away. I am very hungry. It is at least two hours since I ate last. Please come and help me, Mr Obama.

    18. David, VA says:

      Laughing. I live in a relatively affluent middle-class suburban neighborhood, and the closest grocery store is well over a mile away, so I guess us poor saps are stuck languishing in a food desert. Most of the neighborhood drives 10 miles to Whole Foods to get semi-nutritious food. Personally, my family makes a 2 hour trip once a year for a side of beef and we go a good ways to a grower's market for all of our produce. I only shop in a grocery store when absolutely necessary.

      The real debate: when rating this on the "blowing more money on a nonexistent problem to make us look more compassionate" scale, do we add or subtract points for the insipid "we're helping the children" comment?

    19. leishman, colorado says:

      I live in a neighborhood of $400k to $1m homes. The three grocery stores near my house are 1.1 to 1.2 miles away. And, you know, sometimes I feel hungry, and–darn–I'm out of arugula. Obama–Help Me!!!

    20. walter colorado says:


    21. George B, Plano Texa says:

      Maybe if the government had not destroyed so many inexpensive cars and trucks with the CARS program low income people could drive to the nearest discount grocery store instead of walking to the corner convenience store. Bonus points if local activists would quit opposing the construction on Wal-Mart superstores which force grocery prices down in the markets where Wal-Mart is allowed to compete.

    22. Heather, Syracuse says:

      "These communities, where access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited"

      People in "those communities" can afford enough food to become fat, and every food sold in restaurants or packages is already subject to a battery of federal food safety regulations. It's trendy to bash McDonalds, but their raw ingredients and processing facilities all have to pass USDA inspections. It's not AA prime free-range sirloin…because there's not enough free-range cows on the planet to meet demand.

      Anyway, people in "those communities"–which includes mine, as I'm 1.7 miles from the grocery store, snark–don't feed their kids instant mac and cheese from a box or take them to McDonalds because they can't find fresh watercress…they do it because it takes very little effort to prepare and the kids will eat it (and not be hungry an hour later) because the fat, salt, and sugar makes it palatable. They will walk past the arugula and Tuscan kale in their new government supermarket to use their food stamps in the bakery, deli, and frozen foods departments for the same reasons.

      Which is why I think debby's idea of the communal kitchen is probably the end goal. The government will decide what each household is allowed to consume in one day, and you go pick it up from them every morning. You want to serve your family hamburgers for dinner? Too bad, your pediatrician reported that your son is in the 75th percentile for weight for kids his age, so today's allotment is bitter greens, some rice, and a couple of turnips. You're welcome.

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    24. Edward, Pennsylvania says:

      No grocery stores in an urban area ? Geez, that wouldn't ,perhaps, be because there is an enormous problem with "shrinkage" in urban markets, you know, shop lifting by the purported beneficiaries of these businesses ? The thin margins in groceries reduced further by predatory shop lifting by those fine upstanding urban citizens couldn't have anything to do with the lack of grocery stores in urban areas could it ? Couple that with a clientel that largely pay with food stamps and the profit margin evaporates. If grocery stores were viable in these locations, businesses would be there. When you couple predatory taxation, gross receipts taxes and the like, with significant theft of product, and a financially challenged clientel base there is no benefit, no point in opening a grocery business, none. Instead of wasting tax dollars on grocery store initiatives, how about brusquely advocating that these people start caring and providing for themselves and not sponging off of the taxpayers.

    25. Ginger, Kansas says:

      Two things:

      1) I apparently live in a food desert since the closest market is 4+ miles away.

      2) During the 1994 "Rodney King" riots we were living in So. California. The rioters burned down and looted the markets. Many, if not most, were not rebuilt.

    26. Legion says:

      A mile? Really?

      I work next to a supermarket and I walk about a mile to and from work every day.

      OK I do also have one about a quarter of a mile away from me, BUT I live in a densely populated area.

      One more thing. I've seen department stores and malls shoplifted to death in "urban" neighborhoods. That's why they can't have nice things. It isn't some conspiracy.

    27. Chip, Dallas says:

      The socialist and Marxists among us have figured out that the American public will never buy blatant wealth transfers or direct financial grants to these unprofitable stores and businesses. They have also figured out that the public has more trouble keeping track of and getting angry when when a Fannie or Freddie type quasi-bank gets another bail-out from the taxpayers.

      But just like Fannie or Freddie, money is "lent" to businesses that don't have a viable business plan or any hope of paying it back. And for a while that loan looks like an "asset" on the books of the quasi-government "lender". But when that money doesn't get paid back the tax payers is fleeced again and the lending entity is bailed out.

      And the end result is nothing less than a property transfer from hard-working taxpayers. The money goes to friends of the administration and the powerful in congress, and some even gets to the poor.

    28. Chris, North Georgia says:

      What an excellent idea! Americans are too independent. Federal control of the food supply will discourage people from improper and disobedient thoughts. Recalcitrant populations who refuse to acknowledge Obama's great and brilliant vision can be brought into proper submission… or sadly, if necessary, eliminated.

      All hail 'The One' !!!

    29. dustmouse, .9 miles says:

      Oooh! M'Chelle could start a grocery delivery business! That would give her some exercise, fulfill her need to tell other people what to eat, and would even be a Green Job If she did it on a bike!

      Of course it would also be an example of entrepreneurship, so maybe that's bad, but she could always decline to charge for her services, so as not to make any nasty profits. Though I'm not sure it would count as a green job then.

      She could wear her expensive tennis shoes, and have her picture taken all the time by cellphone. She would love it.

    30. Skip, North Carolina says:

      It is about a mile to the end of my driveway, perhaps five miles to the nearest grocery store. Does the Federal government propose building a grocery store at the end of my drive? Most people, even the poorest, have access to a car for purposes of going to the grocery store. The reason people eat junk, and not the fruit and veggies that Mrs. Obama would prefer them to eat, has nothing to do with the distance to the grocery store. Junk tastes better, just ask any child with spinach or lima beans left on their plate.

    31. dharc says:

      Why Mr. Obama do I take food out of my kids mouths and give it to a bunch of ghetto people who sit on their @sses and watch oprah, do drugs ,procreate and get checks for multiple generations?You get what you work for in life.It is wrong on every level to make people provide for lazy parasites.You are putting a gun to peoples heads and making them slaves for your wishes. You are evil and need to be stopped at the ballot box before you destroy america.I was never a racist but now you are making many millions of people think that way.Real.American.Committed.to Integrity.Sovereignty.and The rule of law.

    32. kip , Fla. says:

      this is just another way , to give to the people who don't work ! and think the rest

      owe them something like a living ! also they want to do this ! and if it is implemented it will become a law that we have to feed all those that don't work !

      or won't work ! when welfare is no more b/c of the money issue and the 19 trillion we owe is to great !

    33. West Texan says:

      Obama's way out in left field. The folks in our rural community won't tolerate people going hungry. So who's this Obama come lately?

    34. Joel, Arizona says:

      I think the Obamas must have “everything not forbidden is compulsory” painted on their bathroom mirror.

    35. Sheri, Oregon says:

      Most of my life I have lived on ranches about an hour from town! How did we survive? By being responsible for ourselves and not forgetting our list. Our government is determined to make puppets that cannot think out of all of us. Good Grief!

    36. BK-New Jersey says:

      Follow the Money -
      Who thought of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative – that the Obama Administration ?

      The Architect is the CEO (and a former Community Organizer) named Jeremy Nowak of the Reinvestment Fund http://www.trfund.com. Arnie Graf of the Industiral Area Foundation is on one of the TRfund.com Boards.

      Also, Michael Gecan of the IAF (the Foundation started by Saul Alinsky) has been on Jeremy Nowak’s Reinvestment Fund – Advisory Board – that advises on how to take advantage of ‘New Market Tax Credits’ that the US Treasury hands out.

      These ‘New Market Tax Credits ‘ give these Non-profit finance Companies a Hugh Market advantage in attrating Investors to provide Capital. Investors get a 40% on their Investment through New Market Tax Credits from the Treasury – this eliminates any 40% of the Risk on the Investment.

      Why is Tim Geithner -such a Spokesperson for this Initiative?

      Because the US Treasury issues “New Market Tax Credits” – the Obama Administration needs Mr Geithner to choose the Right Non-Profit Finance Firms – these are called CDFIs.
      You’d be amazed at the High Correlation of CDFIs that receive New Market Tax Credits and that support President Obamas Agenda/Policy items.

      The Reinvestment Fund has been Financing SuperMarkets in Poor parts of Philadlphia for several years and using New Market Tax Credits as part of making their Financing attractive to Investors.

      If you start investigating you’ll discover that Jeremy Nowak, his executives, and his Board members gave approximately $16,0000 in donations to the Obama election campaign.

      These donations led to a meeting in July of 2009 between Jeremy Nowak, Mayor of phili, and White House staff.

      The network of CDFI – or Community Development Financial Institutions (these are non-profit finance companies that get Government grants and Tax Credits) is the way President Obama funds special interest advocacy groups.

    37. Jerry, Wisconsin says:

      Food deserts would not exist if the criminals in the low-income hoods wouldn't have robbed and murdered the owners of their local grocery stores. Only an idiot would operate a retail business in some of those "food deserts" (self-made slums). Lower margins, higher risk…why won't they open a store here?

    38. Lamya Sorisho, Farmi says:

      please, is there an 800 number to find out more about this program?

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