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Recently, in response to issues raised about food access, the current State Representative for House District 65 dismissed that there are food deserts in the district and remarked that citizens who are not located near a grocery store can order food online.

Her opponent, Mandisha Thomas, who serves as the Vice Chair of the South Fulton Food Policy Council is responding. This weekend, in a national op-ed published by “The Christian Post,” she called for compassionate response to residents’ concerns. She also wants those who are not aware of the issue to take note of the data.

“The USDA has classified multiple tracks in District 65 as food deserts, citing distance to the nearest supermarket, residents’ income and the number of households without vehicles,” said Thomas. “It’s also important to look at United Way’s recent issuance of severely low child well-being scores for the area, which are based on several criteria, including access to healthy food. Additionally, an overwhelming number of children in our district’s schools qualify for free and reduced lunch.”

With so much buzz about Amazon in the metro area, it’s not surprising that some think that tech is an easy answer to food insecurity. But Thomas points out that grocery delivery services can come at great cost, as products are often priced higher than in stores, and minimum purchase amounts as well as subscription fees are typically required. Additionally, in House District 65 and other suburban and rural areas that are not easily accessed by the interstate, these services are often unavailable or available on a limited basis.

“Although our current representative dismisses the data and the concerns voiced by residents impacted by issues of food access and food insecurity, it’s important that we continue to highlight the problem so that we can bring about solutions,” said Thomas.

“Last, but not least, we must set the record straight and affirm that despite our representative’s comments, this is not who we are as a community. We’re not a community that ignores our most vulnerable residents or leaves people behind. Local farmers, community leaders and volunteers are all actively working together to combat food insecurity in our community.”

Farmers in House District 65 are also speaking out. Retina Dawson, founder of Kadwell Farms in Union City, is one of many farmers in the area who are trying to help address food access issues by increasing access to non-GMO, plant-based and grass-fed products via farmers markets, CSA’s, outdoor classrooms and community gardens.

“To claim ignorance about the nutrition and food crisis that plagues our communities contributes to the escalating health disparity amongst the most vulnerable and strips local farmers of the credence of their efforts to produce,” Dawson said about her representative’s comments. “Politicians who engage in these actions of blissful ignorance create an atmosphere for cultural, economic, racial and wellness inequalities on national levels.”

Community leaders, farmers respond after Georgia representative dishes food desert was originally published on atlantadailyworld.com

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