#PeopleOverPolitics2016- Solving Tallahassee's Food Desert Problem

#PeopleOverPolitics2016- Solving Tallahassee’s Food Desert Problem

Leon County Food Dessert map

While my opponent Scott Maddox has talked much about crime and airport development throughout his career as an elected official or candidate for public office in Tallahassee, he has said very little and done less to address the poverty and food security issues plaguing our community.  Since Maddox's return to the city commission in 2012, he has remained relatively quiet on the subject, despite the fact that Leon County's food insecurity has worsened since 2012, and in 2014 it was the fourth highest in the state of Florida.

The above map retrieved from the USDA food access research atlas shows shaded in green, areas in Tallahassee where a considerable portion of the population is low income and has low access to fresh and healthy food.  In addition, this map also shows areas in yellow where vehicle access is low.  These areas are better known as food deserts.  You will notice that the majority of Tallahassee's predominantly Black/African American neighborhoods are engulfed in these green shaded areas.

The Tallahassee Democrat quoted Maddox’s last May responding to questions of addressing poverty in Tallahassee:   "You can't tackle every issue on the table and expect success...addressing crime, and the factors that fuel it is something the city can focus on...jobs are important but there's only so much we can do about jobs, ...We will see market change on the south side, but not for a while."

These comments reflect the problem with Maddox's approach to deal with the severe issues facing several Tallahassee communities.  He does not understand the connections between food security, crime, and  public health.  He expects the people of Tallahassee to wait on trickle-down economics to resolve long-standing socio-economic problems.  In the meantime, he wants to focus his attention on "crime" and development at the airport.  Simply put, Maddox does not see the food security problems facing more than a quarter of Tallahassee's citizens as a top priority!

Many of the residents in these communities have taken the initiative for progress, instead of waiting on Maddox  and others to address these issues, and have started their own community garden, and farmers market programs.  I have visited many of these gardens and worked with various organizations looking to address these issues.  These organizations need more support from our local government.  Additionally, it is paramount that we incentivize development into these locations.  The use of impact fees to discourage development where it is not required and waivers to promote it in focused locations is working in many other cities.  It will be important that the next Tallahassee City Commissioner has a perspective that benefits all of Tallahassee's residents.   We will only solve the poverty and food security problems facing our city when we put PEOPLE OVER POLITICS.

Dr. Strouble

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