By Rebecca DiFede - This past Wednesday, Michelle Obama hosted a press conference where she detailed the latest progress on her Let’s Move campaign. It seems she has shifted her focus from exterminating characters marketing unhealthy foods, and decided instead to pretty much shove broccoli and Brussels sprouts into people’s faces.
She announced that corporate giants such as Walgreens and Walmart have joined her fight to provide healthy food to under-served, low-income areas. The pledges from these and other companies promise to create thousands of jobs and bring healthy, affordable food to almost five million people. (And who said world peace wasn’t possible?)
Walgreens pledged to created “food oasis” stores that would provide such amenities as ready-made meals and fresh, pre-cut fruit, promising to create more than 6,000 jobs. Walmart said that it would make an effort to make all its food a little healthier and improve more than 300 stores, estimated to create 40,000 jobs. And several other smaller stores signed up to do their part for the cause.
At first glance, this program seems harmless. A bunch of stores are promising to supply healthier, more affordable items to their consumers, what could possibly be bad about that?
Well, as with everything in life, all good things come at a cost. In this case, $35 million of the proposed budget for 2011 alone and $300 million for 2012, all coming from the already over-stretched taxpayer pockets, which seeing as Obama’s idea of stimulating the economy is taking from those who work and giving to those who don’t, will largely be paid by the upper 2 percent. A demographic that is very likely not to be counted among those who are “under-served.”
So to recap, Michele Obama plans to propose $335 million in spending, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades, in order to put more fruit on the shelves of the American people. It is understandable to want to try and discourage obesity by advocating for a healthier diet, but quite another to dedicate portions of the national budget to impose lifestyle choices on communities that may not even want it.
The First Lady said herself that it was up to the communities to decipher what their specific needs were, so what if some “at-risk, under-served” communities want to keep their McDonald’s and KFC and aren’t keen on having a Walgreens “food oasis,” but need the jobs it could [potentially] provide? The program lures American’s in with its promise of jobs (as good as tying steak to yourself and jumping in a shark tank) and then locking them into food choices that they might not otherwise make without them realizing what it all meant (this is the part where the shark tears you in half).
Never mind the fact that people have the ability to choose what they eat, and have been choosing what types of food to consume, despite the selection provided for them. Fresh fruit is already sold in a multitude of stores, from big-name supermarkets, to corner stores and even 7Eleven. So why do we need to build more places to buy these items when they are already readily available in locations typically situated in “under-served” areas?
It seems that what Ms. Obama really wants to do is to take her idea of how Americans should eat, and force it on those who are unable to refuse her. Lower income, under-served communities need jobs more than any other demographic in this country and Michele thinks that they also need better nutritional habits.
In order to do that, she is using her bully pulpit to partner the gigantic new healthy food-bearing stores with the promise of increased jobs for those in need. She could have offered them anything and as long as it came with jobs, the communities would be on board.
What our nation needs right now is to focus on our debt, which will only be further exacerbated by the enormous spending increases suggested by this program. People will eat fruit if they want to, or Big Mac’s if they want to and a shiny new store with a big electric sign advertising “Healthy Food Sold Here!” isn’t going to change their minds.
Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG).