May 5, 2014
Arena No Oasis
Definition as provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
The image is part of a map devised by the USDA to designate areas of the United States that are severely deprived of access to fresh food. The orange parts on the map are areas in Allentown with less than adequate access to fresh food. Green areas signify the worst-hit areas, called “food deserts” by USDA and other Public Health agencies. Light blue areas show very low income.
The orange dot in the middle of all of this need is the heralded Phantoms Arena. Yes, “the beacon of hope of Allentown” is sited like a feudal lord’s castle, surrounded by people who are being ignored, inconvenienced, and oppressed like so many peasants. Starved for attention you could even say, but are The Players in the middle of this moneyed deal noticing at all?
Grocery stores anchor neighborhoods. Grocers hire, train, offer career paths and not only improve community health but increase the value of housing. Grocery stores attract other businesses, such as dry cleaners, clothing merchants and drug stores. Grocery stores need to be part of an essential development scheme for Allentown and Bethlehem, and that development needs to begin apace with the arena and all of the other City Center plans being touted.
K Mary Hess
guest post by K Mary Hess, a public health consultant