Although Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan, it is the poorest city in the U.S. with unemployment rate of near 50 percent and a child poverty level of 47 percent. Community food security is a condition where all members of a community have access and close proximity to enough nutritious, culturally acceptable food at all times from environmentally sustainable sources.
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The food security policy of Detroit was created to ensure that all the city’s citizens are hunger free and food secure at all times. The policy addresses accessibility to quality food, hunger and malnutrition, inadequate diet, civic education, economic injustice, urban agriculture, and food security in schools.
Accessibility to Quality Food
More than 500,000 residents in Detroit live in areas with limited accessibility to quality food. Detroit was among the cities that were hardest hit by the recent economic recession with an unemployment rate of 16.7%, poverty level of 20.5% and most of its residents received the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP) benefits.
The available food varieties are too expensive for most of the residents. Lack of accessibility to transport infrastructure due to inadequate public transport system and minimal supply of fresh foods in the food stores available are some of the factors that contribute to inaccessibility of food to the residents (Lee, Johnson & Joyce, 2008).
Therefore, there is urgent need to increase the amount of culturally appropriate food outlets, carry out a research on the available food enterprises and ensure that the available food stores comply with the food safety codes and sanitary standards set. Due to the food problem, there was need to establish a policy that addressed the issues.
The public transport system needs to be reviewed to ensure that public transport is accessible especially to local farmers.
Local production of food needs to be encouraged and this is already being experienced as Detroit has become a model for urban agriculture initiatives with most of its residents now undertaking urban agricultural practices. Lastly, a ban needs to be set up for all Genetically Modified food supplies in the city (Pothukuchi, 2011).
Hunger and Malnutrition
Through a study carried out by WIC programme, it was established that majority of children in the city were malnourished and anemic. Programmes such as the food stamps have helped alleviate severe cases of hunger but have not successfully tackled the problem.
Community self help groups and other government programmes need to be highly considered as an effective means of curbing the food problem. Faith and community based education as well as civic education can also be exploited as a drive towards a more secure food state.
The level of junk food in Detroit is alarming. Obesity is almost becoming an issue of public concern and this is majorly caused by the fact that families stopped preparing fresh foods and instead prefer packaged foods that are instant to prepare. With these bad eating habits, health issues such as hypertension and diabetes are increasing in the local authority, and the increasing need to set up emergency funds for health care has risen.
Impact of the Detroit Food Policy on the Residents of Detroit
Residents of Detroit need to be empowered about environmental protection and diversity of life. This can be done through equipping the youth with knowledge, tools and skills to enable them act as advocates to improve the environment’s quality. The youth are the most resourceful members of the community.
Institutions of learning such as schools and colleges are also effective channels to advocate for civic education. This can be done through introduction of certain courses tailored to educate the society or directly educating the students and making them serve as ambassadors to their parents (Detroit, n.d.).
The policy has influenced most residents in Detroit to practice urban farming through increased local produced food products. The urban agriculture-zoning ordinance was for instance approved by Detroit City Planning Commission as a move towards encouraging larger urban farms in the city.
Impact on Schools and Public Institutions
Schools and other community organizations such as churches and community associations play an important role in ensuring food security in Detroit. For example, Students can be encouraged to pursue courses in agriculture and animal husbandry.
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The city council of Detroit can easily collaborate with churches and community organizations to help disseminate information on importance of practicing a healthy diet and encourage residents to undertake urban agriculture.
Effect on Emergency Response
The city council needs to develop food reserves in cases of emergency. Strategies and plans need to be put in place to prevent cases of food emergency. In conclusion, this public policy has had many profound negative effects on the operational budget of Detroit.
The city council has had to set up large sums of money to feed the residents each year through food aids. Massive investment has also been done in programmes to ensure food security. This has largely constrained the development of Detroit in other sectors of the economy. However, once the problem of food is tackled, the city will be able to effectively move forward and be at a level ground with other American cities.
Detroit, (n.d.). A City of Detroit Policy on Food Security: Creating a Food Secure Detroit. Retrieved from: http://eatbettermovemore.org/sa/policies/pdftext/200909181349220.DetroitFoodSecurity.pdf
Lee, R., Johnson, R., & Joyce, P. (2008). Public budgeting systems. (8 ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Pothukuchi, K. (2011). Food System Report 2009-2010. Web.