As some Des Moines residents lobby to try to stop Hy-Vee from closing one of the few grocery stores serving residents in the urban core of Iowa’s capitol city, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is suggesting it’s time for the federal government to step in and help entrepreneurs make a go of grocery stores in poor neighborhoods.
“Making sure that we have a supermarket, a healthy supermarket, in all neighborhoods because we know in wealthy neighborhoods — for obvious economic reasons — there are over three times as many supermarkets as in non-wealthy neighborhoods,” Edwards says.
In late 2001, construction began on a brand new grocery store in central Des Moines, but the “Top Value” supermarket wasn’t able to stay afloat and it closed after just a year and a half in business. Edwards says the government needs to find a way to encourage development of supermarkets in the lower income neighborhoods of America’s cities — places where convenience stores often are the lone alternative for shoppers who must walk to the market and carry their purchases home.
“What we want to do is to launch a public/private partnership to try to bring good foods, nutritious foods to low income areas,” Edwards says. “So we’re going to create a map to see where food access is available and then in places where it’s not we’ll create challenge grants for projects that help bring supermarkets to those areas.”
On the eve of Thanksgiving, a day of bountiful feasts at most American tables, Edwards is encouraging his supporters to donate to a food pantry or work at a soup kitchen sometime during the holiday period. On Monday, Edwards will visit a food bank in New Hampshire. But Edwards isn’t the only presidential candidate to be focusing attention on food pantries. Republican Mitt Romney made a stop at a food bank in Hiawatha today. Democrat Hillary Clinton dropped by a Des Moines food pantry Tuesday.