Cultivating Food Security | November 2019 | Louisiana Public Square


EXCELLENCE IN LOUISIANA PUBLIC BROADCASTING AND FOR VIEWERS LIKE YOU. HELLO, AND WELCOME TO “LOUSIANA PUBLIC SQUARE.” I’M BETH COURTNEY, PRESIDENT OF LPB. JOINING ME FOR OUR DISCUSSION TONIGHT ON FOOD INSECURITY IS REPORTER AND NEWS ANCHOR, NATASHA WILLIAMS. IT’S GREAT TO BE WITH YOU AGAIN. THANKS A LOT, BETH. IT’S GREAT TO BE HERE ON THIS THANKSGIVING WEEK AS WE GATHER TOGETHER TO ENJOY A BOUNTIFUL MEAL. IT’S A GOOD TIME TO REFLECT UPON OUR NEIGHBORS THAT MAY NOT BE AS FORTUNATE. IT’S ESTIMATED THAT 1 IN 6 LOUISIANA HOUSEHOLDS STRUGGLE EACH YEAR TO AFFORD HEALTHY CONSISTENT DIETS. LOUISIANA’S SHARE OF FAMILY EXPERIENCING FOOD INSECURITY ROSE NEARLY SIX PERCENTAGE POINTS. COMPOUNDING THE PROBLEM IS THE CHALLENGE OF FOOD DESERTS — RURAL AND URBAN COMMUNITIES WITHOUT EASY ACCESS TO HEALTHY AND AFFORDABLE FOOD. THE USDA ESTIMATES OVER 13.5 MILLION AMERICANS LIVE IN FOOD DESERTS, SO HOW IS LOUISIANA ADDRESSING ITS FOOD INSECURITY PROBLEM? WHAT HEALTH ISSUES DOES FOOD DISPARITY CREATE? AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RECRUIT GROCERY STORES TO AREAS THAT NEED THEM THE MOST? WE’LL HEAR MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES. EVERY OTHER FRIDAY, RIDERS AT BATON ROUGE’S MAIN BUS TERMINAL CAN BUY AFFORDABLE FRESH PRODUCE AT A POP-UP STORE. I’VE BEEN WANTING SOME BELL PEPPERS. IT IS TO INCONVENIENT SOMETIMES GOING TO THE STORE. I TAKE ONE BUS AND I’M HERE. THEN I TAKE ONE BUS AND GO BACK HOME AND EAT. THE FOOD IS DELIVERED FROM NEW ORLEANS BY TOP BOX. CONNOR DEROACH IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. TOP BOX FOODS IS A NONPROFIT THAT HAS A PRETTY SIMPLE MISSION, AND THAT’S TO MAKE HEALTHY FOOD MORE ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE IN AREAS THAT LACK ACCESS TO GROCERY STORES. 17% LIVE IN AREAS WITH LOW ACCESS TO GROCERY STORES. THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IS 8%. IF WE CAN MAKE ENOUGH ACCESS IN CERTAIN AREAS OF THE CITY WHERE WE KNOW THEY LACK ACCESS, WE CAN TRY TO PUSH THAT NEEDLE IN TERMS OF HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH BENEFITS FOR EATING HEALTHY PRODUCE. TOP BOX HAS BEEN PILOTING THE PROGRAM OVER THE LAST THREE MONTHS WITH THE CAPITAL AREA TRANSIT SYSTEM. THEO RICHARDS IS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER FOR CATS. WE HAVE OVER 2,000 CUSTOMERS THAT’S TRANSFERRING AT THIS BUS STATION ON A DAILY BASIS. WE SAW THE NEED FOR OUR RIDERSHIP AS WELL AS THE COMMUNITY TO HAVE ACCESS TO FRESH PRODUCE. THE PROGRAM IS ONE OF MANY IN THE STATE TO ADDRESS FOOD DESERTS AND FOOD INSECURITY. KOREY PATTY IS THE DIRECTOR. THE FEEDING AMERICA DATA SAYS THAT 773,000 LOUISIANIANS FACE FOOD INSECURITY. THEY MAY NOT KNOW JUST WHERE THEIR NEXT MEAL IS COMING FROM. ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY LOYOLA UNIVERSITY, THE HIGHEST RATES OF FOOD INSECURITY ARE IN THE NORTHEASTERN PART OF THE STATE WHERE NEARLY 30% OF RESIDENTS IN EAST CARROLL, MADISON, AND TENSAS PARISHES FACE INCONSISTENT ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD. LOUISIANA ALSO LEADS THE NATION IN SENIOR FOOD INSECURITY. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT OUR FOOD BANKS SEE A LOT OF TIMES IS OLDER FOLKS THAT ARE NOW CARING FOR GRANDCHILDREN IN THE HOME, SO THERE’S SOME PROGRAMS THAT SPECIFICALLY RELATE TO SENIOR FOOD INSECURITY SERVING SENIORS. THE COMMODITY SUPPLEMENTAL FOOD PROGRAM IS SPECIFICALLY FOR FOLKS 60 AND OLDER. FOOD DESERTS ARE AREAS LACKING ACCESS TO FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES. WHAT THIS PROGRAM DOES IS IT PROVIDES FINANCING TO ATTRACT GROCERS, SUPERMARKETS, AND RETAIL OUTLETS THAT WOULDN’T BE INCENTED TO GO TO A LOW TO MODERATE-INCOME AREA. KATHY SALOY IS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOD AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES. ASSISTANCE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE 52 PARISHES THAT WERE AFFECTED BY HURRICANES GUSTAV AND IKE. ONE OF THE MOST IMPACTFUL HAS BEEN THE OPENING OF A FOOD STORE IN THE CITY OF GRANDLING. LEGENDS GROCERY STORE AFFORDED THOSE RESIDENTS A GROCERY STORE THAT THEY DID NOT HAVE FOR THE PAST 35 YEARS. THE NEAREST CITY IS RUSTIN, LOUISIANA, SO THOSE RESIDENTS HAD TO CROSS THE CITY LINE AND GO TO RUSTIN TO GET THEIR GROCERIES. HOPE ENTERPRISE HAS ALSO ENTERED INTO A COOPERATIVE ENDEAVOR AGREEMENT WITH BATON ROUGE. SHARON BROOME IS THE CITY’S MAYOR-PRESIDENT. THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT NEW GROCERY STORES NOT ONLY WILL ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF FOOD INSECURITIES AND CLOSE THE GROCERY GAP, BUT THEY WILL ALSO INFUSE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INTO COMMUNITIES. AND PEOPLE WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY NOT ONLY TO PURCHASE THEIR FOOD TO BE A PART OF THE PROCESS AS EMPLOYEES. THE HEALTHY BATON ROUGE INITIATIVE IS USING $2 MILLION IN GRANTS FROM HUMANA AND BLUE CROSS TO ESTABLISH COMMUNITY GARDENS AND A MOBILE MARKET. BROOME’S ADMINISTRATION IS ALSO WORKING WITH DOLLAR STORES TO PROVIDE FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLE OFFERINGS. WHEN YOU’RE FOOD INSECURE, YOU TEND TO CHOOSE LOW COST ITEMS WHICH OFTEN ARE HIGH CALORIE, LESS NUTRIENT DENSE, AND FOODS THAT WE KNOW WOULD LEAD TO HIGHER LEVELS OF OVERWEIGHT AND EVEN OBESITY. DR. CATHERINE CHAMPAGNE IS CHIEF OF DIETARY ASSESSMENT AND NUTRITION COUNSELING AT THE PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER. OBESITY COSTS THE STATE NEARLY $3 BILLION A YEAR ACCORDING TO THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. IT ALSO PUTS INDIVIDUALS AT INCREASED RISK FOR ADDITIONAL HEALTH PROBLEMS. THE LEVEL OF DIABETES THAT’S RELATED TO BEING OVERWEIGHT IS 14%, AND THAT RANKS US FOURTH IN THE NATION. FOR HYPERTENSION, WE’RE AT 39%. THAT’S HYPERTENSION THAT’S RELATED TO OBESITY, AND THAT PUTS US SIXTH IN THE NATION. CHAMPAGNE SAYS A HEALTHY DIET CAN BE AFFORDABLE. WELL, I THINK THE TRICK TO DOING THAT IS LOOKING AT PERHAPS HAVING A GARDEN, SHOPPING AT FARMER’S MARKETS, PURCHASING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES THAT ARE IN SEASON AND COULD PERHAPS BE LOWER COST. THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY IS WORKING THROUGH FEDERAL GRANTS TO ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY GARDENING IN FOOD DESERTS. MARKET UMBRELLA OFFERS STATEWIDE CONSULTING FOR FARMER’S MARKETS, AND FEEDING LOUISIANA WORKS ON LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS TO STATEWIDE HUNGER. HELPING THE FOOD BANKS TO SERVE MORE PEOPLE AND ADDRESS THE NEEDS THAT EXIST IN COMMUNITIES TODAY AND THEN ENCOURAGING STRONG POLICIES AND PROGRAMS WHERE WE’RE ABLE TO SAY WE’RE GOING TO BE HELPING PEOPLE AND MOVING MORE FOLKS OUT OF POVERTY SO THEY’RE ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES. WHILE SHARING SOME OF THEIR OWN SOLUTIONS WITH THEIR STUDIO AUDIENCE INCLUDES REPRESENTATIVES FROM FEEDING LOUISIANA, THE LOUISIANA BUDGET PROJECT, MARKET UMBRELLA, AND TOGETHER LOUISIANA. WE ALSO GOT A VALUE FOOD STORE MANAGER, A COMMUNITY GARDENER, AND A MEMBER OF THE YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL. AMONG THE SURVEY FINDINGS, FOOD INSECURE HOUSEHOLDS SPENT 20% OF THEIR TOTAL BUDGET AT CONVENIENCE STORES WHILE FOOD SECURE HOUSEHOLDS SPENT LESS THAN 10%. FOOD INSECURE HOUSEHOLDS BUY ABOUT 3.6 CUPS OF FRUIT A WEEK. FOOD SECURE HOUSEHOLDS PURCHASE JUST OVER SEVEN CUPS. WEEKLY SPENDING FOR FOOD SECURE HOUSEHOLDS AVERAGES $55 PER WEEK FOR ADULTS. IN FOOD INSECURE HOUSEHOLDS, THE AMOUNT IS ABOUT $43. AND WHEN IT COMES TO THE OPINION THAT HEALTHY FOODS DON’T TASTE AS GOOD, 24% OF FOOD INSECURE PARTICIPANTS FEEL THAT WAY COMPARED TO JUST 13% OF RESPONDENTS FROM FOOD SECURE HOUSEHOLDS. LET’S START OUR OWN SURVEY. TELL ME YOUR NAME, WHO YOU REPRESENT, AND HOW YOUR ORGANIZATION IS HELPING TO COMBAT FOOD DISPARITIES IN LOUISIANA. I WANT TO START WITH YOU. I DO COMMUNITY GARDENING, AND I HAVE WENT ALL OVER DIFFERENT PLACES IN SOUTH BATON ROUGE AND OTHER PLACES. PEOPLE CALL ME ABOUT OPENING AND GETTING A COMMUNITY GARDEN GOING, SO I GO AND I GIVE THEM THE INFORMATION. AND WE GET THE GARDEN GOING, AND WE HAVE KIDS, PEOPLE, ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE TO COME AND HELP AND DO THE GARDEN. AND IF YOU HELP AND DO THE GARDENING, THEN YOU GET THE FOOD TO TAKE HOME AND COOK. EVEN THE CHILDREN. WE HAVE A LOT OF CHILDREN COMING. I HAD A LOT OF CHILDREN COMING, AND THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT FRESH FOOD WAS. I WOULD SAY, WELL, TASTE IT. THEY START TASTING. I WOULD GIVE THEM A CARROT OR GIVE THEM A CUCUMBER OR SOMETHING AND LET THEM TASTE IT. AND THEY START EATING IT JUST ORDINARILY. THEY WOULD ASK TO TAKE SOME HOME. I WOULD GET WHAT WE GROW, AND I WOULD PUT IT ON THE TABLE AND LET EACH PERSON OR CHILD TAKE SOME OF THE FOOD HOME TO THEIR PARENTS. I EVEN TELL THEM HOW TO TELL THEIR PARENTS HOW TO COOK IT AND PREPARE IT. I TEACH THEM HOW TO PLANT AND WHAT TO PLANT AND WHEN TO PLANT, AND THEY ENJOYED IT. YOU WERE LITERALLY PLANTING A SEED TO HELP THEM. TO GET HEALTHY FOOD. COULD YOU TELL ME YOUR NAME AND WHO YOU REPRESENT? I’M WITH THE LOUISIANA BUDGET PROJECT. WE WORK ON POLICY AT THE STATE LEVEL TO HELP MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO AFFORD TO KEEP FOOD ON THEIR TABLES WHILE KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON OR PAYING THEIR CAR NOTE CAN GET HELP FROM GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS LIKE THE SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, WHICH IS SNAP, WHAT USED TO BE KNOWN AS FOOD STAMPS. MUCH OF OUR WORK IS FOCUSED ON THESE PROGRAMS BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT FOR EVERY MEAL THAT A FOOD BANK SERVES, SNAP FEEDS PEOPLE WITH 11 MEALS. AT ITS ROOT, FOOD INSECURITY IS AN ISSUE OF RESOURCES, POVERTY, AND POLITICS. WE WORK HARD TO TRY CHANGE POLICY TO BENEFIT PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE ENOUGH. LET’S GO BACK ON THIS SIDE. CANDACE? HELLO. I’M A HEALTH RESEARCHER AT PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER HERE IN BATON ROUGE. WHAT I DO IS WHAT DR. CHAMPAGNE WAS TALKING ABOUT. WE KNOW THAT FOOD INSECURITY REALLY DECREASES A HOUSEHOLD’S OR FAMILY’S ABILITY TO PURCHASE MAYBE HEALTHY FOODS OR MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES. IT DECREASES DIET QUALITY AND INCREASES CALORIC INTAKE BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE MAKING POOR CHOICES AROUND FOOD, SO THIS LEADS TO OBESITY. MY INTEREST IS UNDERSTANDING THE LINK BETWEEN FOOD INSECURITY AND OBESITY AND HOW WE CAN TAKE THAT NEXT STEP TO DEVELOP INTERVENTIONS OR PROGRAMS SO WE CAN IMPROVE HEALTH OUTCOMES IN THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO DO SUFFER FROM POVERTY, WHO ARE LOW INCOME AND ARE FOOD INSECURE SO WE CANNOT ONLY ENSURE THAT WE HAVE A HEALTHY POPULATION BUT THAT WE’RE REALLY TARGETING THOSE PEOPLE WHO SUFFER THE MOST WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING CHOICES ABOUT FOOD. OFFERING NUTRITION AND DIET PLANS TO GET PEOPLE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? ABSOLUTELY. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT MAKING SURE PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO FOOD OR FAMILIES HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT, BUT WHEN THEY HAVE THAT ACCESS AT THE GROCERY STORE, THAT THEY’RE MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES. THANK YOU. COULD WE HEAR A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU? WELL, I’M PART OF “TOGETHER LOUISIANA.” I CONSIDER MYSELF JUST A REGULAR CITIZEN WHO IS INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR COMMUNITY. TOGETHER LOUISIANA IS INTERESTED IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT ISSUES, BUT THIS HEALTHY FOOD INITIATIVE IS ONE THAT’S VERY IMPORTANT. I CAME TO BATON ROUGE 56 YEARS AGO. WHEN I DID — AND I STILL LIVE IN THE SAME PLACE I LIVED THEN — WE HAD A GROCERY STORE. WE HAD EVERY OTHER THING WE NEEDED IN THAT COMMUNITY AS WELL. BUT OVER THAT 56-YEAR PERIOD, I HAVE NOTICED ALL OF THAT HAS DISSIPATED. I WATCH PEOPLE GO TO THE FAMILY DOLLAR OR TO THE OTHER FAST FOOD STORES, AND THEY WOULD BUY STUFF THAT’S NOT GOOD FOR THEIR KIDS OR FOR THEMSELVES. BUT I ALSO REALIZE THAT THEY HAVE TO BUY WHAT THEIR FAMILY INCOME CAN AFFORD SOMETIMES, AND THAT IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD FOR THEIR DIET. I SPENT 41 YEARS TEACHING AT SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY, AND MY GOAL THERE WAS THE SAME AS IT IS NOW — TO MAKE SURE OUR COMMUNITY HAS WHAT IT NEEDS AT ALL TIMES IN THE RIGHT PROPORTIONS SO THAT WE LIVE A HAPPY LIFE. OKAY. THANK YOU. I’M GOING TO GO TO YOU BECAUSE THERE IS A GROCERY STORE IN A PART OF TOWN THAT’S NOT HAD A GROCERY STORE. HOW HAPPY ARE THE RESIDENTS THERE TO HAVE YOU THERE? TELL ME WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU REPRESENT. MY NAME IS ANDREW. I’M A MANAGER AT SHOPPER’S VALUE FOODS AT COLONIAL ON AIRLINE HIGHWAY. THE RESIDENTS ARE ECSTATIC TO HAVE US THERE. IT WOULD BE A FOOD DESERT IF WE WERE NOT THERE BECAUSE A LOT OF OUR CUSTOMERS DON’T HAVE TRANSPORTATION, SO THEY’RE ABLE TO WALK THERE AND GET THEIR GROCERIES AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. WE OFFER FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, LEAN-CUT MEATS, AND FORTIFIED DAIRY AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. WE’RE HAPPY TO SERVE IN THE BATON ROUGE AREA. I WOULD LIKE TO GET A YOUTH PERSPECTIVE. BRIDGET, TELL ME WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU’RE FROM. IS THIS SOMETHING THAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK ABOUT? I’M PART OF THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL, WHICH IS KIND OF LIKE A MINIATURE STATE BODY OF LEGISLATORS. WITH MY PERSPECTIVE, I GO TO HIGH SCHOOL EVERY DAY, AND AT MY HIGH SCHOOL 44% OF OUR STUDENTS ARE ON FREE OR REDUCED LUNCH. EVERY DAY, I LOOK AT WHAT MY FRIENDS ARE EATING FROM OUR CAFETERIA. OUR YOUTH ARE MAKING THESE CHOICES OF WHAT TO PUT IN THEIR BODY EVERY DAY. LOUISIANA HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST RATES OF TEEN OBESITY. WE’RE VERY MUCH AFFECTED BY THE ISSUE, EVEN IF NOT ALL OF US ARE ENGAGED IN THE ISSUE. OKAY. THANK YOU. LET’S HEAR FROM YOU. TELL ME WHO YOU ARE. KATHERINE. I HAVE WORKED MANY YEARS WITH “TOGETHER LOUISIANA” AND HELPED WITH FOOD DISTRIBUTION BACK BEFORE CALIFORNIA SUFFERED THE DROUGHTS AND THEN ALL THE FIRES. THEY WERE SHIPPING LOTS OF FOOD HERE, PRIMARILY FRESH FOOD, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. AND WE DISTRIBUTED IT IN TWO PARTICULAR AREAS WHERE THERE ARE FOOD DESERTS IN BATON ROUGE. IT WAS VERY REWARDING TO SEE PEOPLE GETTING FRESH BROCCOLI, AND SOME OF THEM DID NOT KNOW WHAT AN AVOCADO WAS, SO IT WAS REALLY LOVELY TO SEE THAT WORKING. I JUST CARE ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY AND WANT US TO DO THE BEST WE CAN DO BECAUSE WE ALL PAY FOR OBESITY. WE ALL IN THE LONG RUN END UP FOOTING THE BILL BECAUSE OF THE HEALTH CARE ISSUES. DIABETES. IT’S SOMETHING THAT AFFECTS EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. IT’S NOT SOMETHING JUST FOR THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FOOD DESERTS. IT AFFECTS EACH OF US WHEREVER YOU LIVE. OKAY. AARON, LET’S HEAR FROM YOU. YES, I’M ERIN WITH “FEEDING LOUISIANA.” I WORK SPECIFICALLY WITH OUR POLICY AND ADVOCACY EFFORTS. WE HAVE A NETWORK OF FOOD BANKS AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS ALL OVER THE STATE, AND WE REALLY WANT TO ENGAGE THEM IN THE POLICY DECISION. THEY’RE ON THE GROUND IN COMMUNITIES FACING HUNGER. THEY’RE SERVING THEM EVERY DAY, BUT THEY KNOW THAT WHEN SOMEONE COMES TO THEM NEEDING A MEAL, THEY’RE COMING TO THEM WITH A WHOLE HOST OF PROBLEMS AND A WHOLE HOST OF CHALLENGES THAT HAVE BROUGHT THEM TO THAT POINT. WE WANT THEM TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON WITH PROGRAMS LIKE SNAP AND POTENTIAL FUNDING TO SUPPORT FOOD INSECURE COMMUNITIES AS WELL AS MAKING SURE OUR LEGISLATORS UNDERSTAND THAT IN LOUISIANA HUNGER IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT ISSUE, SO WE NEED TO BE TAKING DIRECT ACTION. OKAY. THANK YOU. THAT IS THIS PORTION OF OUR SHOW. WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME FOR IT, BUT WE’LL RETURN IN JUST A BIT WITH OUR PANELISTS, EXPERTS WHO WILL FURTHER DISCUSS CULTIVATING FOOD SECURITY. WELCOME BACK TO “LOUSIANA PUBLIC SQUARE.” TONIGHT, WE’RE DISCUSSING FOOD INSECURITY IN LOUISIANA. JOINING US NOW IS OUR PANEL — DR. KATHRYN PARKER IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MARKET UMBRELLA, A NONPROFIT THAT PROMOTES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AMONG FAMILY FARMERS AND LOCAL AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES. MARKET UMBRELLA ALSO SERVES AS A MENTOR FOR PUBLIC MARKETS THROUGHOUT THE NATION BY FUNDING WORKSHOPS AND PROGRAMS THAT TARGET COMMUNITIES LACKING ACCESS TO FRESH FOOD. EDGAR CAGE IS THE LEADER OF A STATEWIDE COALITION TARGETING COMMUNITY PROBLEMS. CAGE HAS SERVED ON THE TOGETHER BATON ROUGE FOOD ACCESS RESEARCH ACTION TEAM AND THE EAST BATON ROUGE FOOD ACCESS POLICY COMMISSION. STEPHANIE ELWOOD IS A LICENSED HORTICULTURALIST WITH THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH EXTENSION CENTER. HER OUTREACH INCLUDES NUTRITIONAL EDUCATION FOR SNAP RECIPIENTS, IMPLEMENTING GARDENS ON SCHOOL GROUNDS. CLINT CALDWELL SERVES AS A GENERAL MANAGER FOR THE SHOPPER’S VALUE FOOD STORES HEADQUARTERED IN NORTH BATON ROUGE. IT OPERATES 12 SUPERMARKETS IN LOUISIANA MOSTLY IN MODERATE TO LOW-INCOME AREAS. BEFORE WE GO TO OUR AUDIENCE, I WOULD LIKE TO ASK EACH OF YOU FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO FOOD SECURITY IN LOUISIANA. START WITH YOU. SURE. I WOULD SAY THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE AT MARKET UMBRELLA AND WITH OUR PRODUCERS THROUGHOUT THE STATE IS WE LACK HAVING ENOUGH PEOPLE WHO ARE GROWING FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. WE SEE THAT THERE’S A LOT OF COMMODITY CROP GROWERS WHERE THEY GROW THINGS LIKE CORN, SHUG — SUGAR AND SOYBEANS. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE AS SELF-RELIANT AS POSSIBLE, THAT WE HAVE A LOT WE CAN CHOOSE FROM LOCALLY, AND THAT WE HAVE ALL THE PLACES TO GET IT OUT TO. AND THESE GROCERY STORES THAT WE WANT TO HAVE IN LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS HAVE THE BEST CHOICES AVAILABLE. YES, THANK YOU. I THINK THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS OBVIOUSLY ACCESS TO THE FRESH HEALTHY FOOD, BUT THAT IS JUST A SYMPTOM OF WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR STATE AND OUR COMMUNITIES. THERE ARE CERTAIN ISSUES — ECONOMIC INJUSTICE, SOCIAL INJUSTICES, AND POLITICAL INJUSTICES THAT NEED TO BE CORRECTED AND ADDRESSED WHERE PEOPLE CAN HAVE ACCESS TO FRESH HEALTHY FOOD WITHOUT THE BARRIERS WE NOW PLACE BEFORE THEM BECAUSE THE REASONS ARE STATED. I CERTAINLY SECOND WHAT THESE TWO HAVE SAID THUS FAR. I THINK ACCESS AND ADDITIONALLY HAVING GROWERS, WHICH IS WHAT WE DO — WE TRAIN YOUNG PEOPLE TO BE GROWERS — AND FAMILIARITY TO DIFFERENT PRODUCE. UNDERSTANDING WHAT KALE TASTES LIKE, WHAT DIFFERENT THINGS TASTE LIKE, THAT’S A PART OF GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD. IF YOU’RE GROWING IT AS A YOUNG PERSON, YOU’RE MORE LIKELY GOING TO BE TRYING IT AND EATING AS WELL. I’M GOING TO TAG ON TO WHAT EDGAR SAID AT THE MOMENT. FOOD ACCESS IS JUST A SYMPTOM OF SOME OF THE ECONOMIC INJUSTICE THAT DOES GO ON. WE OPERATE IN LOW TO MODERATE-INCOME AREAS. WE OPERATE AND WE THRIVE THERE. THERE’S A STIGMA BEHIND THOSE AREAS THAT SEEMS TO HAVE A BARRIER TO ECONOMIC GROWTH. I WANT TO DEBUNK THAT RIGHT NOW. WE DO WELL IN THOSE AREAS. WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS, AND WE ACTUALLY HAVE ONE OF OUR STORE MANAGERS IN THE AUDIENCE TODAY. HE’S BEEN NAMED MR. 70805 BECAUSE THE CUSTOMERS LOVE HIM. WE LOVE BEING THERE, AND WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS. THERE IS A PLACE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THESE AREAS. LET’S START WITH BETSY. WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION FOR THE PANEL? MY QUESTION IS — I THINK WE’VE ALL AGREED THAT AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE FOOD IN A GROCERY STORE OR SERIES OF GROCERY STORES IS HAVING THAT ENVIRONMENT IS VERY IMPORTANT, BUT THE OTHER THING IS THE DIET AND THE CHANGE, THE CULTURAL CHANGE THAT IS REQUIRED FOR PEOPLE TO EXPERIMENT WITH THINGS THAT THEY’RE NOT USED TO EATING AND THEY’RE NOT USED TO COOKING AND THAT SORT OF THING. AND I KNOW THAT THERE ARE SOME ATTEMPTS WITH COOKING CLASSES AND THAT SORT OF THING, BUT HOW DO WE TAKE THAT TO SCALE SO WE HAVE A REAL SHIFT IN THE CULTURE OF FOOD PURCHASE AND EATING? I THINK ONE OF THE MAIN THINGS IS WE HAVE TO INCENTIVIZE PEOPLE TO TRY NEW THINGS. LOTS OF TIMES WHEN YOU’RE AT THE GROCERY STORE AND THERE’S SOMETHING NEW THERE THAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN TRYING, YOU HAVE TO PAY OUT OF POCKET FOR THAT. WHAT IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT AND YOU END UP THROWING IT AWAY? WELL, THAT FEELS WASTEFUL, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE OF LOW INCOME. ONE OF THE THINGS WE LIKE TO SEE AND ARE WORKING ON THROUGH OUR MARKETS IS A PROGRAM CALLED MARKET MATCH WHERE WE INCENTIVIZE PEOPLE USING THEIR FOOD STAMPS TO DOUBLE THEM IN BUYING MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. IF THEY’RE USING THEIR SNAP CARD AT ONE OF OUR FARMER’S MARKET, WE TAKE THAT $20 AND DOUBLE IT AND MAKE IT 40. THAT’S A PROGRAM THAT COULD BE IMPLEMENTED STATEWIDE. IT COULD BE IMPLEMENTED NATIONWIDE. I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE A SHOT AT IT ALSO. OKAY. YOU’RE RIGHT, BETSY. WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE CULTURE BECAUSE UNFORTUNATELY WE HAVE COMMUNITIES WHO FOR DECADES HAVE NOT HAD ACCESS TO FRESH HEALTHY FOOD. AND THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO SURVIVE ON WHAT THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO GET. WITH “TOGETHER LOUISIANA” AND “TOGETHER BATON ROUGE,” WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS ISSUE SINCE 2011. PRIOR TO 2012, THERE WERE ONLY FOUR ARTICLES — 26 YEARS PRIOR, FOUR ARTICLES THAT DEALT WITH FOOD DESERTS. SINCE 2012, THERE HAVE BEEN OVER 300. WE HAVE EDUCATED. WE HAVE BROUGHT THIS ISSUE TO LIGHT, AND WE HAVE ALSO COLLABORATED WITH PARTNERS TO INCLUDE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AND LSU AG CENTERS THAT WHEN WE HAVE THESE GROCERY STORES OR FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLE OUTLETS WE WILL TEACH PEOPLE AND EDUCATE THEM NOT ONLY HOW TO SHOP BUT HOW TO PREPARE THE FOOD BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME HIGH RATES OF OBESITY AND HYPERTENSION AND CHOLESTEROL IN THE STATE AND DIET IS A KEY FACTOR. “TOGETHER BATON ROUGE” HAD MOBILE FOOD PANTRIES WHERE WE DISTRIBUTED HEALTHY FRESH FOOD. IT WAS KALE, AVOCADOS, THINGS THEY NEVER HAD A CLUE OR NEVER EVEN KNEW WHAT IT WAS. POMEGRANATES WAS ONE. WE CUT SOME AND HAD PEOPLE TRY THEM AND THEY LOVED IT, BUT WE ALSO HAD RECIPES, RECIPES THAT WE GAVE ALONG WITH THOSE ITEMS SO PEOPLE CAN KNOW HOW TO PREPARE IT. FIRST THING IS ACCESS. THEN EDUCATION WHERE THEY CAN INCORPORATE IT IN THEIR DIETS. WE CAN’T JUST HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER. BAILEY, TELL US WHO YOU ARE. I’M WITH THE LSU AG CENTER. I’M AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCES. MY WORK FOCUSES ON HOW WE CAN LEVERAGE POLICY SYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENTS TO PROMOTE AND IMPROVE DIETARY QUALITY. MY QUESTION FOR ALL OF YOU IS REALLY SURROUNDING THE DIFFERENT MODES OF FOOD RETAIL SITES IN LOUISIANA SPECIFICALLY. SO OFTEN THE CONVERSATION IS ABOUT IMPROVING ACCESS TO SUPERMARKETS. I WOULD AGREE THAT THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT, BUT WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK THE ROLE IS FOR NONTRADITIONAL RETAIL OUTLETS THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA LIKE DOLLAR STORES, DRUGSTORES, CONVENIENCE STORES? DO YOU THINK THAT ROLE DIFFERS IF YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT URBAN LOUISIANA VERSUS RURAL LOUISIANA? THAT’S A TOUGH ONE. IT IS. I’LL TRY TO TACKLE THAT ONE. IT WAS A REALLY, REALLY GOOD QUESTION. THERE HAS BEEN SOME EXPERIMENTATION AS YOU PROBABLY KNOW IN THE DOLLAR STORE ENVIRONMENT WITH DOING PERISHABLE FOODS, FRUITS, VEGETABLES, MEATS, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. IT HASN’T REALLY EXPANDED AS WE WOULD PROBABLY LIKE TO SEE IT BECAUSE, AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE IN THE URBAN AREAS TO SOME DEGREE AND THE RURAL AREAS A DOLLAR STORE ON EVERY CORNER. I’M EXAGGERATING, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. THEY HAVE SIZE RESTRICTIONS AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE OF COURSE IN THE STORES. I THINK THAT WOULD HELP THE PROGRESS OF WHAT WE NEED TO DO HERE. NOW, HOW TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN, I DON’T 100% OF THAT ANSWER HERE TODAY, BUT YOUR POINT IS WELL-MADE. THOSE FACILITIES ARE ALREADY THERE, SO IS THERE A WAY WE CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO MOVE WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE TODAY, FRESH FOODS, INTO THOSE ENVIRONMENTS. I WOULD PROBABLY, WOULDN’T YOU THINK, WHERE THEY WOULD HAVE TO BE INCENTIVIZED TO IN SOME WAY HELP THE COMMUNITY. TO BE PERFECTLY BLUNT, BUSINESSES GO INTO BUSINESS TO MAKE MONEY. THERE’S GOT TO BE THE INCENTIVE THERE FOR THEM TO HAVE SOME KIND OF BOTTOM LINE IN THESE ENVIRONMENTS. SOMETHING WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON AT “TOGETHER LOUISIANA” ON INCENTIVES TO HAVE THESE RETAIL OUTLETS IN ALL AREAS OF THE STATE WHERE PEOPLE CAN ACCESS TO FRESH HEALTHY FOOD, WE INCENTIVIZE MOST OTHER BUSINESSES IN THE INDUSTRY. WHY NOT THE FOOD INDUSTRY? THE MARGINS ARE GENERALLY TIGHT IN THE FOOD BUSINESS, 2% TO 3%. AN INVESTOR NEEDS INITIALLY HELP TO GET STARTED, BUT WE ARE OPEN. THE HEALTHY FOOD RETAIL ACT THAT WE WORKED TO GET FUNDED, IT IS INCENTIVIZED TO FRESH HEALTHY FOOD AND GET A HIGH PRIORITY FOR LOUISIANA-GROWN PRODUCTS. THAT’S AN ECONOMIC TOOL NOT ONLY FOR THE URBAN AREAS BUT FOR THE RURAL AREAS. THE FARMERS CAN CREATE CO-OPS TO BRING THEIR PRODUCTS TO MARKET. THIS IS AN OPTION FOR THE HEALTHY FOOD RETAIL ACT THAT THEY CAN RECEIVE FUNDS FOR. TELL US ABOUT MOBILE MARKETS. I THINK WHAT’S INTERESTING IS THAT THERE’S A LOT OF NONTRADITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOOD DISTRIBUTION THAT WE COULD BE MORE CREATIVE WITH IN THINKING ABOUT. WHILE EVERYONE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A GROCERY STORE WITHIN A MILE OF THEM, IT IS JUST NOT POSSIBLE SOMETIMES IN PLACES WHERE THERE’S NOT ENOUGH POPULATION TO SUPPORT THAT STORE. HOWEVER, WHAT WE CAN DO IS THERE ARE WAYS TO HAVE FARMER’S MARKETS. THERE’S MOBILE MARKETS WHICH POTENTIALLY CAN BE WHERE A PRODUCER AND MAYBE A GROUP OF PRODUCERS GOES TO A CERTAIN LOCATION AND THEN ROTATES THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY. OTHER FOOD DISTRIBUTION MECHANISMS CAN BE LOCATED IN SCHOOLS OR COMMUNITY CENTERS, SO I THINK THERE’S WAYS TO LOOK AT EXISTING PLACES THAT THE COMMUNITY GOES TO AND FIGURE OUT INSTEAD OF LOCATING SOMEWHERE OFF TO THE SIDE FROM WHERE THEY WOULD NOT INTEND TO GO, FIND OUT WHERE THEY’RE ALREADY GOING AND HOW YOU CAN ADD ANOTHER LAYER TO THAT. OKAY. KOREY, TELL US WHO YOU ARE, WHO YOU REPRESENT, AND YOUR QUESTION. I’M KOREY PATTY WITH “FEEDING LOUISIANA.” MY QUESTION RELATES TO SOME OF THE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS THAT WE HAVE HERE IN THE STATE DEALING WITH FOOD INSECURITY. LOUISIANA LEADS THE NATION IN SENIOR FOOD INSECURITY, FOLKS 60 AND OVER. LOUISIANA IS ONE OF THE LEADING STATES IN CHILD FOOD INSECURITY WHERE MORE THAN 200,000 OF OUR CHILDREN DON’T KNOW WHERE THEIR NEXT MEAL MIGHT COME FROM. IT’S ALMOST 1 IN 4 OF LOUISIANA’S CHILDREN. I GUESS MY QUESTION IS, WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT WE HAVE, WHETHER IT’S THROUGH PROGRAMS OR POLICIES OR SOME INITIATIVES TO TRY AND MOVE THE NEEDLE FOR THOSE SPECIFIC POPULATIONS? ONE THING THAT WE DO AT SOUTHERN THROUGH OUR SNAP ED PROGRAM IS WE DO WORK AT SENIOR RESIDENTIAL HOMES, AND WE DO CONTAINER GARDENS. A LOT OF THAT IS LEARNING KNOWLEDGE FROM THE SENIORS ABOUT GROWING FOOD AND THEN BEING ABLE TO HARNESS THAT. THEN WE ALSO TEACH YOUTH AS WELL. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE AS A GARDEN INSTRUCTOR, BEING ABLE TO KNOW HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD IS ONE OF THE MOST SECURE AND SUSTAINABLE THINGS THAT SURROUNDS FOOD SECURITY. THAT’S SOMETHING THAT WE FOCUS ON AT SOUTHERN AT THE AG CENTER OF EDUCATION. AND YOU GO TO LOCAL SCHOOLS AND BUILD LITTLE GARDENS SO THEY CAN GET IT EARLY AND, I GUESS, TAKE IT WITH THEM. YES. THROUGH OUR SNAP PROGRAM, WHEREVER WE’RE CURRENTLY TEACHING NUTRITION HEALTHY EDUCATION, WE BUILD A GARDEN ON THAT SCHOOL CAMPUS. THEN THAT SUPPLEMENTS THE EDUCATION FOR NUTRITION EDUCATION. THE STUDENTS GET TO LEARN HOW TO GROW FROM IT AND HOW TO EAT FROM IT AS WELL. WE HAD A MOBILE MARKET THAT WE WOULD TAKE TO THE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES. I LOVE IN SOUTH BATON ROUGE, AND THEY WOULD ASK ME WHERE DID I THINK WE COULD CARRY THE MOBILE MARKETS TO THE PEOPLE TO COME AND BUY THE FOOD. AND I HAD SEVERAL PLACES WHERE I KNEW THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T HAVE A WAY TO GET TO THE MARKET. I WOULD BRING IT TO THEM. USUALLY, IT DIDN’T WORK. THEY WOULDN’T EVEN COME OUT AND BUY FROM US. WE GAVE THEM ALL KIND OF DIFFERENT THINGS. WE WOULD GIVE THEM EXTRA TOKENS AND EVERYTHING, BUT SOMEHOW — I DON’T KNOW. SOME PEOPLE, THEY JUST DON’T WANT FRESH FOOD, I GUESS. EDUCATION HAS TO BE A MAJOR COMPONENT OF THAT. EXACTLY, EXACTLY. CONSISTENCY AND REGULARITY ARE REALLY IMPORTANT. RIGHT. KNOWING EXACTLY WHERE SOMETHING IS GOING TO BE THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY AND ALSO KNOWING WHAT’S GOING TO BE THERE. ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT MOBILE MARKETS SOMETIMES OR EVEN FARMER’S MARKETS WHICH WE OPERATE AT MARKET UMBRELLA IS THE CUSTOMERS ARE WONDERING WHAT DO THEY HAVE THERE. HOW MUCH IS IT? IT DEPENDS. THAT’S WHERE EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT TO LEARN THE SEASONALITY AND TO ADD ON TO THAT WHAT WE GROW HERE AND WHAT WE DON’T GROW HERE AND WHY YOU DON’T FIND GRAPES AT A FARMER’S MARKETS, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. THERE’S A LOT OF THINGS WE CAN DO TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EXISTING PROGRAMS THAT WE HAVE. TO QUICKLY GO BACK TO YOUR QUESTION, WE HAVE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO SIGN UP FOR EXISTING PROGRAMS LIKE FOOD STAMPS TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY CAN GET WHAT THEY NEED TO CLOSE THE GAP IN THAT FOOD BUDGET BECAUSE THESE WORKING FAMILIES HAVE CHILDREN, AND THEY REALLY NEED TO BE ABLE TO EAT A HEALTHY MEAL. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SNAP, SOME PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE THAT YOU CAN BUY WITH SNAP THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK YOU CAN TRADITIONALLY BUY WITH SNAP. FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IMPROVE OUR DIET AND OUR MENTAL HEALTH. WITH SNAP, TO MAKE SURE THAT’S MORE INCENTIVIZED, WE DOUBLE THE PURCHASES AT THE CRESCENT CITY FARMER’S MARKET. WHAT CAN YOU BUY WITH SNAP AND WHAT CAN’T YOU BUY? BECAUSE SNAP IS KIND OF, I GUESS, A SITUATION WHERE IT COULD BE CUT NOW BECAUSE OF THE CURRENT POLICIES THAT ARE BEING STUDIED. RIGHT. YOU CAN’T BUY, FOR EXAMPLE, HOT PREPARED FOOD WITH SNAP UNLESS YOU’RE IN A POST-DISASTER AREA. THAT’S ONE OF THE THINGS PEOPLE OFTEN POINT TO. THEY’RE GETTING SOME BIG HOT MEAL OR WHATEVER. NO, THAT’S ONLY IN A HURRICANE SITUATION RIGHT AFTER. YOU CERTAINLY CANNOT BUY ALCOHOL OR TOBACCO WITH SNAP FUNDS. THAT’S ONE OF THE OTHER MISNOMERS ABOUT THAT AS WELL. I’M GOING TO AGE MYSELF A LITTLE BIT WHEN I SAY THIS, BUT BACK WHEN I WAS A KID GOING TO SCHOOL, WE HAD FIELD TRIPS. WE WOULD GO TO VARIOUS THINGS, FIRE STATIONS, BUT THE GROCERY STORE WAS ONE OF THOSE. I DON’T SEE THAT OCCURRING TODAY. AT LEAST WE DON’T SEE IN OUR ENVIRONMENT. WE WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT. I SAY THAT FROM A STANDPOINT OF MAKING OUR POPULATION HEALTHIER, AS WE MENTIONED EARLIER — WE’VE GOT THE FOURTH WORST STATE FOR OBESITY IN THE COUNTRY. FOR MAKING US HEALTHIER, WE HAVE TO START WITH OUR CHILDREN. WE HAVE TO EDUCATE THEM TO WHAT IT IS. I’M JUST SAYING FROM OUR STANDPOINT WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A CLASS OF CHILDREN COME THROUGH OUR STORES AND LET US WALK THEM THROUGH AND TELL THEM ABOUT WHAT’S HEALTHY FOR THEM AND WHAT’S NOT HEALTHY FOR THEM. YOU FOLKS LISTENING OUT THERE? THE INVITATION IS OPEN. I’LL SAY THAT. THAT IS, I THINK, SO IMPORTANT FOR US. WE HAVE CREATED A CULTURE, A FOOD ENVIRONMENT I WILL CALL IT, THROUGH OUR CULTURE THAT HAS BECOME VERY, VERY UNHEALTHY FOR A LOT OF OUR COMMUNITIES. TO SEGUE OFF WHAT CLINT JUST SAID, THERE IS A NEED FOR A CULTURE CHANGE. THERE IS A NEED FOR CULTURE CHANGE AT POLICY. THERE’S A NEED FOR CULTURE CHANGE THE WAY INVESTORS CHOOSE AND SELECT WHERE TO PUT STORES. SOME AREAS IN OUR STATE YOU HAVE TEN SUPERMARKETS WITHIN A THREE BLOCK AREA. SOME AREAS YOU DON’T HAVE THEM FOR MILES AND MILES AND MILES. THERE’S ALSO A NEED FOR US, AS CITIZENS, AS COMMUNITY MEMBERS, TO CHANGE. WE HAVE TO DEMAND. WE HAVE TO DEMAND THAT THESE STORES CARRY CERTAIN ITEMS, FRESH HEALTHY FOODS. WE DON’T HAVE TO SIT BACK AND ACCEPT IT. IF WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES, WE CAN GO TO SOME OF THESE STORES WE HAVE HERE IN BATON ROUGE. WE HAVE A HEALTHY CORNER STORE INITIATIVE WHERE WE REQUIRED STORES TO OFFER FRESH HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS. WE GAVE THEM AN INCENTIVE, BUT THEY ACCEPTED IT. AND YOU SEE THEM AT THE COUNTER, APPLES AND ORANGES. AND LOW FAT MILK AND CHEESE AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE. WE ALL HAVE A PART TO PLAY. I DON’T WANT THE CITIZENS TO JUST SIT BACK AND THINK I CAN’T DO ANYTHING. I CAN ONLY GO TO THE CORNER STORE AND GET WHAT THEY OFFER. NO, YOU CAN ORGANIZE AND START DEMANDING THAT YOU GET AN APPLE. WHEN YOU FIND THE APPLE, MAKE SURE IT IS AFFORDABLE BECAUSE IN THE FOOD DESERTS NOW, IF YOU FIND A HEAD OF LETTUCE OR TOMATO, YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT BECAUSE IT IS FOUR OR FIVE TIMES HIGHER THAN WHAT WOULD BE IN OTHER AREAS OF TOWN. ARE THERE PROGRAMS THAT WILL COME AND TRY TO HELP ALLEVIATE THIS PROGRAM? ARE THERE GRANTS YOU CAN GET TO TRY TO HAVE A STORE THAT OFFERS CERTAIN THINGS? WE HAD SOME LOCAL GRANTS IN BATON ROUGE THAT ALLOWED US TO DO THAT THROUGH SOME OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES. THEY PROVIDED SOME GRANTS, BUT I’M SURE IF THERE AREN’T, THERE SHOULD BE. SOMETHING WE MIGHT CAN LOOK AT TRYING TO DEVELOP. BRIDGET, HOW ABOUT A QUESTION? TELL ME WHO YOU ARE. HI, I’M BRIDGET FROM LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL. MY QUESTION IS, WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS THAT ARE DISSUADING GROCERY STORES FROM OPENING IN INSECURE AREAS AND HOW THESE ARE FACTORS BEING ELIMINATED? I’LL JUMP IN ON THIS ONE. I’VE WORKED WITH EDGAR FOR SEVERAL YEARS ON THAT PARTICULAR QUESTION YOU ASKED. I STARTED OFF EARLIER TALKING ABOUT A STIGMA, AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WE’VE GOT TO GET BEYOND, THAT STIGMA. I’M EXAGGERATING THIS AS WELL. THERE’S A MILLION DIFFERENT THINGS THAT SOMEBODY WILL LOOK AT WHEN THEY’RE LOOKING AT PUTTING A GROCERY STORE IN A LOCATION. A LOT OF DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION, HOW MUCH PER SQUARE FOOT THE BUILDING IS GOING TO COST, WHAT TYPE OF STORE IT IS GOING TO BE, WHICH DETERMINES THE COST PER SQUARE FOOT. WHAT EDGAR AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE SPEND A LOT OF TIME DOING WORKING ON THESE INCENTIVES TO GET PEOPLE TO COME TO THESE, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, FOOD DESERTS, THAT’S WHAT WE’VE GOT TO DO. SOMEBODY HAS GOT TO CHAMPION THIS IN MY OPINION. DEVELOPING THE MARKETING PIECES AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE THAT THEY CAN GO TO DIFFERENT COMPANIES WITH AND SAY HERE’S YOUR INCENTIVES TO COME HERE. HERE’S THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THIS AREA. HERE’S HOW MUCH GROCERY BUSINESS IS AVAILABLE WEEKLY IN THIS AREA. I’LL GO BACK TO SAYING I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE A CHAMPION PROBABLY IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR WHERE THAT NEEDS TO COME FROM THAT CHAMPIONS THIS TO TRY TO GET THAT. IF THEY GET ONE AND IT SUCCEEDS, THAT OPENS THE DOOR TO MORE. I ASSUME THIS IS STILL RIGHT. THERE’S NINE DEFINED FOOD DESERTS IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH. 103,000 PEOPLE LIVING IN THESE FOOD DESERTS. THAT’S PROBABLY THE FIFTH BIGGEST CITY IN LOUISIANA. I HAVEN’T LOOKED AT POPULATION. I’M JUST THROWING SOMETHING OUT THERE. THE FACT THAT 300,000 PEOPLE LIVE JUST IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH THAT DON’T HAVE ADEQUATE ACCESS TO FOOD, WE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. WE SHOULD. THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE FOOD INSECURE, THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL. BUT AS CLINT SAID, I WAS ON THE FOOD ACCESS POLICY COMMISSION. I WAS THE CHAIR. WE DID AN EXTENSIVE STUDY OF THE FOOD DESERT AND THE FOOD SITUATION ISSUE IN EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH. WE TRAVELED THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND LOOKED AT BEST PRACTICES. WHAT WAS MISSING HERE IN BATON ROUGE WAS THAT THERE WAS NO CHAMPION, NO PLACE WHERE A PERSON OR DEVELOPER CAN GO WHERE SOMEBODY CAN TAKE THEM BY THE HAND AND SAY YOU NEED TO DO A, B, C, AND D IF YOU WANT TO OPEN UP A GROCERY STORE. BALTIMORE HAS A GREAT PROGRAM. THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE DOING. WITH “TOGETHER BATON ROUGE” AND “TOGETHER LOUISIANA,” WE WERE SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING MAYOR BROOME TO COMMIT TO $1.8 MILLION IN INCENTIVES TO ATTRACT HEALTHY FOOD OUTLETS, RETAIL OUTLETS TO THOSE UNDERSERVED AREAS. WE NEED POLICY AND WE NEED THE CULTURAL CHANGE, AND WE NEED SOMEBODY CONSIDERED TO BE A CHAMPION OF THIS ISSUE. YOU CAN’T JUST IGNORE IT ANY LONGER. TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BOOTS ON THE GROUND, STEPHANIE, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MORE SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS YOU’VE HAD IN TRYING TO TEACH AND EDUCATE ABOUT GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD, SUSTAINING YOURSELF? WELL, WE HOLD WORKSHOPS TWICE A YEAR AT SOUTHERN. WE HAVE ONE COMING UP. IT’S THE FALL/WINTER GARDEN WORKSHOP NEXT TUESDAY. WE INVITE LOCAL FARMERS FROM LOUISIANA, PRIMARILY MINORITY FARMERS WHO ARE DOING IT. TEACH US HOW TO DO IT, WHAT TO DO. WE HAVE FOOD PRESERVATION. WE HAVE A PRESENTATION ON THAT AND HYDROPONICS. WHEN THINGS ARE IN SEASON AND WHEN THEY CAN BE A GOOD PRICE, WE HAVE ONE ON THAT. WE FOCUS ON THAT OUTREACH THROUGH DIFFERENT WORKSHOPS. LIKE I MENTIONED EARLIER, OUR SNAP ED PROGRAM. I ALSO WORK WITH A PROGRAM THAT TEACHES ADJUDICATED AND INCARCERATED YOUTH HOW TO GROW THEIR OWN FOOD. THAT FOCUSES NOT ONLY ON THE PHYSICAL HEALTH BUT ALSO THE MENTAL HEALTH OF GARDENING. OKAY. CANDACE, YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR US. TELL US WHO YOU ARE AGAIN. I’M CANDACE MYERS. I’M A HEALTH RESEARCHER AT PENNINGTON BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER. THERE WAS A RECENT REVIEW OF ALL THE PUBLISHED LITERATURE THAT LOOKED AT FOOD INSECURITY ON POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION CAMPUSES, SO COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND COLLEGE UNIVERSITIES. WHAT THEY HAVE CONCLUDED IS THAT FOOD INSECURITY IS REALLY A PREVALENT PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. SO MUCH SO THAT WHEN THEY COMPARED HOW COLLEGE STUDENTS WERE REPORTING BEING FOOD INSECURE, IT WAS MUCH GREATER THAN WHAT WE SEE IN THE GENERAL POPULATION. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT A UNIQUE POPULATION IN A UNIQUE TIME OF THEIR LIFE. ARE THERE ANY PROGRAMS THAT ARE CURRENTLY UNDER WAY ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES TO ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY IN STUDENTS OR ARE THERE SPECIFIC PROGRAMS THAT WE SEE IN THE COMMUNITY THAT ACTUALLY MAY WORK QUITE WELL ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES TOO? THAT’S A GREAT QUESTION. IF DANNY WANTS TO START, I CAN ADD AFTER. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE IN THE COLLEGE STUDENT POPULATION BOTH AT FOUR-YEAR AND TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS. FOOD INSECURITY RATES SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER THAN THE POPULATION AS A WHOLE. THE RULES AROUND SNAP ACCESS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE VERY COMPLICATED AND TRY TO EXCLUDE THE COLLEGE POPULATION. THIS HAS BEEN THE CASE SINCE THE 1970s. LOOK, WE THINK COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE PROBABLY POOR ON PAPER, BUT THEY MAY HAVE RESOURCES FROM THEIR FAMILIES THAT CAN HELP SUPPORT THEM. THAT’S GENERALLY NOT THE CASE. 76% OF COLLEGE STUDENTS AT FOUR-YEAR AND TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS ARE NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS. THEY MAY BE WORKING MORE THAN HALFTIME. THEY MAY HAVE A CHILD. THEY MAY BE AN ADULT LEARNER. LOUISIANA HAS PUT INTO PLACE A CHANGE IN THE RULES TO SNAP FOR THE STATE THAT ALLOWS COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS TO ACCESS SNAP BENEFITS IF THEY’RE ENROLLED IN CERTAIN PROGRAMS. FEDERAL LAW RESTRICTS WHICH PROGRAMS ARE ALLOWED TO ACCESS THIS BENEFIT, BUT OTHER INSTITUTIONS HAVE HAD GREAT SUCCESS WITH PROGRAMS THAT ALLOW STUDENTS TO SHARE MEAL SWIPES WITH PANTRIES ON CAMPUS, WITH PROGRAMS TO MAKE SURE CAMPUS STORES CAN ACCEPT EBT FOR STUDENTS WHO QUALIFY FOR SNAP, EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT IN ONE OF THOSE PROGRAMS. BUT IN GENERAL, I THINK COLLEGE STUDENTS FACE TREMENDOUS CHALLENGES. MANY OF THEM ARE GOING TO SCHOOL WHILE LIVING FULL LIVES, INCLUDING FULL WORK SCHEDULES, CARING FOR CHILDREN, AND BEING ADULTS. I THINK RECOGNIZING THAT THAT POPULATION HAS NEEDS THAT WE AS A STATE NEED TO ADDRESS IS TT — IS THE FIRST STEP. YOU HAVE A QUESTION? YES, I THINK IT WAS ADDRESSED EARLIER THAT ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT WAS HAD IS GETTING FARMERS TO GROW FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, HOW DO WE CHANGE THAT? WE’VE BEEN PARTNERING WITH LSU AG TO TRAIN NEW AND BEGINNING FARMERS TO HELP EXPAND THEIR CURRENT OPERATIONS AND TEACH THEM THE SKILLS THEY NEED TO EITHER GROW MORE OR ACQUIRE NEW LAND MAYBE THROUGH LEASE, FAMILY, OTHER MEANS TO TRY TO GET THEM TO GROW IN THAT WAY. SOME FARMERS HAVE BEEN CONVINCED TO CONVERT PORTIONS OF THEIR COMMODITY CROPLANDS FOR FOOD PRODUCTION. THAT’S CERTAINLY AN AREA WE CAN LOOK INTO IN LOUISIANA. HOW DO WE CHANGE THE CULTURE OF THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP IS BE A FARMER? WELL, IT’S CHANGING THE PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT A GARDEN IS OR WHAT A FARMER IS. FOR EXAMPLE, TODAYS KIDS MIGHT BE MORE INTERESTED IN URBAN FARMING. HOW DO WE CELEBRATE THE FARMER? HOW DO WE MAKE SURE OUR CHILDREN KNOW THAT IS ONE OF THE NUMBER ONE THINGS YOU CAN BE IN YOUR LIFE IS GROWING FOOD AND PROVIDING IT FOR OTHER PEOPLE? AND THE IMPORTANCE OF IT. AND THE IMPORTANCE OF IT. I AGREE. DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? I DO. AS AN ORGANIZATION THAT ALREADY SUPPORTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE THROUGH WHAT WE OFFER, HOW CAN WE BETTER PROMOTE THAT FOR OUR CUSTOMERS? ANY IDEAS ON THAT? ENCOURAGING FOLKS TO BUY — LOTS OF BIG SIGNAGE AROUND THAT PRODUCE. LOTS OF TASTINGS. IN OUR RESEARCH, WHEN WE DID IT, WE WORK WITH SOUTHERN AG CENTER AND LSU AG CENTER. I’M SURE THEY STILL HAVE THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO COME AND DO DEMONSTRATIONS IN YOUR STORE. IN LOUISIANA, WE DON’T EAT TO LIVE. WE LIVE TO EAT. WE’RE THE ONLY PLACE IN THE COUNTRY THAT PUTS FOOD ON TOP OF FOOD. OKAY? IF YOU CAN COLLABORATE WITH THOSE AG CENTERS AND COME UP WITH SOME DEMONSTRATIONS ON HOW TO SHOP THE PERIMETER AND HOW TO PREPARE AND HAVE A TASTING, I THINK YOU CAN GO A LONG WAY IN HELPING PROMOTE THE HEALTH OF YOUR CUSTOMERS. PARTNERING WITH YOUR LOCAL SNAP. YES AND NUTRITION EDUCATION. DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? THE MONEY THAT WAS ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY, IS THAT SIGNED, SEALED, AND DELIVERED THAT IT MUST BE IN A FOOD DESERT? YES, YES. IT HAS TO BE A LOW-INCOME CENSUS TRACT. EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT THAT IS. IT IS THE EAST BATON ROUGE HEALTHY FOOD RETAIL INITIATIVE WHERE WE HAVE $1.8 MILLION TO ATTRACT HEALTHY FOOD OUTLETS IN THOSE UNDERSERVED AREAS. IT HAS TO BE A LOW-INCOME CENSUS TRACT. IN A LOW-INCOME CENSUS TRACT, 33% OF THE POPULATION OR MINIMUM OF 500 PEOPLE LIVE A MILE OR MORE FROM A LARGE GROCERY STORE OR SUPERMARKET IN AN URBAN AREA. IT IS TEN MILES IN THE RURAL AREAS. THAT’S ALL IN LOW-INCOME CENSUS TRACTS THAT THE PROJECTS WILL BE AWARDED. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU A QUESTION. DOES 1.8 MILLION EVEN SCRATCH THE SURFACE? AGAIN, IT DEPENDS ON THE VARIABLES. IT DEPENDS ON THE SIZE OF THE STORE, THE TYPE OF STORE YOU WANT TO PUT IN. I WOULD TELL YOU GROCERY STORE ON AVERAGE — I’M JUST GOING TO THROW THIS OUT. ON AVERAGE, A GROCERY STORE IS GOING TO COST YOU $100 PER SQUARE FOOT. IF YOU PUT IN A 20,000-SQUARE FOOT GROCERY STORE, IT IS GOING TO COST YOU $2 MILLION. THAT’S A GENERAL RULE OF THUMB THAT’S OUT THERE. THIS PROGRAM IS DESIGNED AS AN INCENTIVE, NOT A FULLY-FUNDED PROJECT BUT AN INCENTIVE TO GET YOU OVER THE HUMP. THEY’RE HOPING TO GET A FEW GROCERY STORES WHERE THE PARTNERSHIP OF THE CITY GRANT. THE FIRST FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS ARE THE MOST CRITICAL YEARS OF A GROCERY STORE. AFTER THAT POINT IN TIME, TYPICALLY THE DEBT IS PAID DOWN PRETTY WELL AT THAT POINT. THESE INCENTIVES ARE THERE TO HELP BRIDGE THAT TIME FRAME FOR THE STORES. $1.8 MILLION, BUT WITH HOPE FINANCIAL THEY’LL LEVERAGE THIS TO GET OTHER PUBLIC AND PRIVATE DOLLARS TO ADD, BUT THAT IS THE BASE TO ATTRACT OTHER PARTNERS TO FUND THESE PROJECTS. OKAY. WE’RE JUST ABOUT OUT OF TIME, SO LET’S START WITH SOME FINAL THOUGHTS. DR. PARKER? SURE. I THINK THAT IT’S REALLY IMPERATIVE THAT WE ALL THINK ABOUT WAYS TO ENGAGE IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES, ENGAGE THE PEOPLE WE LIVE, WORK WITH ABOUT HOW THEY CAN EAT HEALTHY AT HOME AND ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE TO EAT HEALTHY WITH THEM. ADVOCATING FOR SOME OF THESE WONDERFUL INCENTIVE PROGRAMS LIKE MARKET MATCH AND SNAP INCENTIVES AND GROCERY STORE INCENTIVES IS A GREAT PLACE TO START. I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE TO REALLY GET BEHIND AND REALLY ENSURE AND GUARANTEE THAT ALL OF OUR CITIZENS HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A QUALITY LIFE, ACCESS TO FRESH HEALTHY FOODS BECAUSE WHEN ONE OF US SUFFERS, WE ALL SUFFER. WE EITHER TAKE CARE OF NOW OR WE TAKE CARE OF THEM LATER. WE HAVE TO GET THE PERCEPTION OF THESE AREAS ARE BAD AREAS — LIKE CLINT SAID, YOU CAN MAKE MONEY BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL EAT. THEY HAVE TO EAT. WE WANT YOU TO COME TO THOSE AREAS. VERY MUCH SO ON THE LARGE SCALE AND ON THE MORE MICRO SCALE, PERSONALLY, I DIDN’T GROW UP EATING KALE OR DIFFERENT THINGS LIKE THAT, BUT IT CAME TO A POINT WHERE I WAS AN ADULT. I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIA WHERE IT WAS FORCED TO EAT HEALTHY. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU GET SICK TO EAT HEALTHY. I’M NOT TELLING YOU TO STOP EATING YOUR RAMEN NOODLES OR YOUR POP-TARTS. THE MENTAL BENEFITS THAT COME WITH THAT IS EXTRAORDINARY. I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO TRY THAT AND YOU’LL LOVE IT AS WELL. THERE’S NOTHING LIKE GROWING YOUR OWN. I REALLY LIKE IT. MR. CALDWELL? FOOD IS A BASIC HUMAN NEED AS WE ALL KNOW. EVERY HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO HAVE FRESH HEALTHY FOOD AVAILABLE TO THEM. WE, AS A POPULATION OF THIS STATE, AS A POPULATION OF THIS COUNTRY, HAVE ALL GOT TO BE ADVOCATES TO FIX THAT PROBLEM. I MEAN, IT BREAKS MY HEART WHEN I THINK ABOUT THESE SENIORS THAT ARE SITTING OUT THERE THAT DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO FOOD. I MEAN I DON’T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT BECAUSE I START TEARING UP HONESTLY, BUT WE ALL HAVE TO GET PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. WE ALL HAVE TO BE ADVOCATES FOR THIS, GET OUR NEIGHBORS TO BE ADVOCATES FOR THIS, AND GET OUR POLITICIANS TO BE ADVOCATES FOR THIS. WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME FOR OUR QUESTION AND ANSWER SEGMENT. WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR PANEL FOR THEIR INSIGHT THIS MONTH ON THIS TOPIC. WHEN WE COME BACK, WE’LL HAVE A FEW CLOSING COMMENTS. WELL, THAT’S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE FOR THIS EPISODE OF “LOUSIANA PUBLIC SQUARE.” WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE, LPB.ORG/PUBLICSQUARE. YOU CAN FIND FOOD INSECURITY RESOURCES THERE. IF YOU WANT TO COMMENT ON TONIGHT’S SHOW, CLICK ON THE “JOIN THE CONVERSATION” TAB. WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS HAS ONE RE-ELECTION. JOIN “LOUSIANA PUBLIC SQUARE” NEXT MONTH AS WE PAIR FROM CAMPAIGN INSIDERS ABOUT THE BATTLE FOR THE GOVERNOR’S MANSION. WE’LL ALSO DISCUSS THE RAMIFICATIONS FOR NEWLY-ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. THANKS FOR WATCHING AND GOOD NIGHT. FOR A COPY OF THIS PROGRAM, CALL 1-800-973-7246 OR GO ONLINE TO LPB.ORG.

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