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Town Halls to address Limited Access to Healthy Foods in Michigan

January 13, 2016 – The American Heart Association will be hosting Town Hall meetings on January 20th at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in L’Anse and in Marquette on January 21st at the Board Commission, to discuss the lack of access to nutritious foods in Baraga and Marquette counties and across the state. According to The Food Trust, 1.8 million Michigan residents, including 300,000 children, live in communities where they do not have easy, or any, access to affordable healthy food.

For the first time in history, our children are expected to live five years less than their parents due to the high rate of childhood obesity and diseases that are a factor of obesity. In fact, thirty percent of Michigan’s population is considered clinically obese. A 2011 report issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health showed 32.6 percent of Michigan’s children ages 10-17 were considered overweight or obese.

The Heart Association is working to address this problem and is looking for community members to join this initiative. We are asking Baraga families, business leaders, school administrators, church leaders and all community members to join us in this campaign,” said Ted O’Dell, campaign manager, for the American Heart Association’s Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign.Together we can bring more healthy food options into the area and ultimately reduce obesity and cardiovascular diseases.”

The underlying goal of the Healthy Food Access Campaign is to provide financing and business assistance to healthy food retailers that benefit underserved communities in Michigan, which will allow our citizens to have healthier options available. House Bill 5180 has been introduced by Representative Dave Pagel (R-Berrien Springs), and if implemented would expand opportunities for low-interest loans and grants for those in communities who want to expand their healthy food offerings; increasing healthy food access in communities needing it most. This initiative will help make the healthy choice an easy- and possible – choice in Michigan communities.    

Dave Hodgkins, American Heart Association’s government relations director in Michigan, stated, “We can’t let the childhood obesity epidemic continue. We all need to work together, from the independent convenience store owners to our lawmakers. We need to be the voice for kids in Michigan. Let your state legislators know that with Michigan being the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, every resident should have access to healthy food.”

MEETING TIMES & LOCATIONS

Wednesday, January 20th

Keweenaw Bay Ojibway Community College

770 N. Main St. L’Anse

Jay Loonsfoot Room

9:30 AM  – 11:00 AM

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Thursday, January 21st

Marquette Board of Commissioners,

234 W. Baraga Avenue Marquette 

Room 41

9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

4:30 PM – 6:00 PM


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