Formal Proposal: Food Deserts in Detroit

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue: 2. Persona and POV statement Persona:

Persona name: Amy James

Age: 44

School/occupation: Secretary at Jones Day law firm

Location: Urban Detroit

Quote: My family is everything!


  • Has 3 kids enrolled in public school

  • Has to work overtime on average 3 days a week

  • Divorced from husband when children were young

  • Mother lives nearby and helps watch children after school

  • Lives in condo


  • Find a better job and be able to provide for her children

  • Ensure her children at breakfast at home, lunch at school and dinner athome

  • Make more time to run basic household errands

POV Statement:

  • User Amy, a hard working mother of three...

  • Need Needs to be able to provide more nutritious options for her family

  • Insight Because she is concerned about the health consequences of her children’s current diet and hopes a new job will help her afford better, smarter choices.

3. Potential Solutions

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Institute an ordinance that the city of Detroit has to have a grocery store that supplies healthy food and fresh produce within walking a certain mile radius of each other. This mile radius is small enough that those living within it can access the grocery store by walking or by public transportation. The grocery store also has to accept food stamps and other government assistance programs.

SOLUTION 2:  Mandate that all schools have a garden or some agricultural space that the children can help keep. This will combine healthy eating with education about how to self-subsist. Each student should be able to access the garden and take home a portion of the healthy food that they planted.

SOLUTION 3: Mandate that requires all students to take a class on nutrition. This class should include topics such as consequences of obesity, how to maintain a balanced diet, the ways to be healthy for cheap, and the benefits of exercise.


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

Children are at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to food deserts and the inability to access nutritious foods. Our proposal allows for students to stay after school, become educated on growing produce, and learning how to cook with the produce they grow. Combining the skills to grow produce with culinary aspects will allow for students to translate this to their life at home. Additionally, having an after school activity will allow for their parents to work longer days without worrying about picking their children up from school.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

For my service activity, I am working with Meals on Wheels Ypsilanti. This is a non-profit organization focused on delivering meals to seniors who cannot provide for themselves. My work with this organization began to spark some ideas about how a lack of access to food can really shape the quality of people’s lives. Additionally, both Bella and I have wrote and responded to many provocations about the problems of food deserts across the United States. The combination of these two things gave us a strong foundation for our proposal regarding the problem of food deserts in Detroit. Bella and I both wanted to focus on creating a healthy food initiative program and after researching many other attempts in different states, we felt as if we had a good grasp on what has worked and what has failed.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Between Meals on Wheels Ypsilanti and Books for a Benefit, Bizzy and I have discovered a need for students to maintain a healthy diet and have access to food as well as the importance of education. Neither of us had fully realized the implications of a poor diet and lack of education on students and parents’ lives. One’s quality of life can drastically be altered as a result of access to food and a good education. There are consequences of these aside from the obvious, such as stress and being more prone to illness.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue: Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:  Karen Raden MS RD CCN is a Registered Dietician, Certified Clinical nutritionist, with a Masters of Nutrition Degree. We consulted her to find out about the importance of a balanced diet. Raden specializes in creating nutrition programs that are not one size fit all. Her consultation gave us ideas about how we could include nutritional teaching in the school program. Raden consults clients in a few different areas such as digestive wellness, nutritional wellness, adrenal stress index, and food sensitivity. She believes that consultation in these areas can give clients a better understanding of how to eat food that is right for their bodies. Raden’s sessions are expensive which makes her clientele demographic to be in the higher socio-economic bracket. Raden suggested to us that we reach out to nutritionists in the Detroit area to do volunteer work. Bella and I took her advice into our proposal and are considering doing a few sessions each school year period for students to sit down and listen to a nutritionist speak about the different components of their diet. The benefits of this would be that lower socioeconomic families can get the same consultations that higher socioeconomic families are often accustomed to.

CONSULTATION 2: Cindy Dell is a kinetic wellness teacher in addition to being the head coach of her high school swimming and water polo teams. We discussed with her the importance of a well balanced diet for children in school as well as the importance of engaging in physical activity. She noted that most students go home and are mostly sedentary for the remainder of the night. This lack of physical activity combined with the lack of a well balanced, nutritional diet could be harmful for students. She does note, though, that many students from low income areas are in households that lack the ability to provide the utmost best for their children, despite the desire to do so. Bizzy and I took what she said and implemented it into our proposal accordingly by ensuring that students were involved in the gardening process and reaping the benefits of their grown produce.

CONSULTATION 3: We consulted the office of Congressman Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania. Evans was the head of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative. This initiative tackled the problem of food deserts in the state of Pennsylvania. Evan’s sits on the House Agriculture committee. This inspired us to consider targeting the Michigan House Agriculture Committee to finance our project and push our pilot program into action.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Upon discussing our proposal with Mr. Fahy, he encouraged us to do a pilot program so that it made it easier to receive funding. This way our proposal is more reasonable and likely to be implemented. Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Bella and I were really interested in food deserts during the provocation period. When we came together to make our media artifact, we decided to pursue the idea of limiting food deserts in the city of Detroit. The initial idea that Bella and I wanted to follow was the implementation of grocery stores that sold fresh food in areas classified at food deserts. Much of the research that we found on this topic was based off of food insecurity programs that had been implemented in other states such as Pennsylvania. When going into the meeting with Professor Fahy, we proposed that idea as our first choice. However, Fahy consulted us that a pilot program in schools would be much more feasible and easier to propose in congress. At the meeting, we were given some consultants to advise on what type of pilot program we could do. Bella and I wanted to focus specifically on the health of youth and children because they are the most affected demographic and could benefit the most off of our proposal. Our research for the media artifact lead us to read about how 1 in 5 of Detroit children classify for WIC program (woman, infant, children) which supplies food stamps. However, the majority of the stores that accept WIC stamps are liquor stores. Furthermore, we looked at other programs that have been implemented in Detroit and found that much of them focused on gardening initiatives and other agricultural programs. After our consultation with Professor Fahy, we decided to go in the same direction as these other Detroit programs and make our proposal based in creating a garden space in Detroit schools. After deciding this, we reached out to both nutritionist and school board officials to hone in on what exactly we needed to be done. This is when we reached out the consultants listed above.


Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Bella and I worked together on almost every part of the proposal.

Because I had done a few provocation post comments on food desert posts and was working with Meals on Wheels Ypsilanti, I wrote the media artifact. Bella edited the media artifact that I wrote.

Bella took on the personas and the POV statements. She created them and then I looked over them and edited the areas that I felt needed to be changed.

Using the POV statements that Bella wrote, I came up with three potential solutions to the problems that the POV statements were most focused on. Bella helped me with this by giving me a lot of ideas to choose from that she felt resolved the issues she presented. After writing the potential solutions, Bella edited them.

I went in to speak to Professor Fahy about our proposal. Bella was unable to come with me because the time that worked best for me was a time that she had mandatory class. However, after speaking with Professor Fahy, Bella and I met and I gave her a summary of what we talked about and what our proposal should be focused on.

Bella and I worked equally on the pre-proposal. The areas that we contributed to on individually can be seen on the language we used.

When reaching out to our consultants we decided to do it together because we felt it was necessary that both of us heard the ideas that these people were giving us.

In terms of writing the proposal, Bella and I sat down together and wrote it out together. We worked on a collaborative google doc and talked through each of the ideas that we had and compromised on many parts.

In editing the proposal, we sat down again and went through the critiques that we got on our first draft of the proposal. Bella was the one who wanted to focus our edits on making the pilot program a kind of competition between school districts. She felt that this was a good way to incentivize kids and schools to work harder and take advantage of the materials that they will be given.

FORMAL PROPOSAL The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform. Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....there are approximately 23.5 million people who live in food deserts. Forty-eight percent of Detroit households are considered ‘food insecure’.

WHEREAS… one in five children in Detroit are fed through the government assistance program WIC. Forty-eight percent of WIC stores are liquor stores without access to fresh and healthy food.

WHEREAS… children living in food deserts are the most affected subset of the population. Children living in food deserts are more susceptible to obesity, type II diabetes, stunted academic achievement, and lower cognitive performance.

WHEREAS.... People who live in food deserts are more prone to look to fast food restaurants for meals. Most people living in food deserts are not educated on what a balanced diet entails, as well as how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with their specific body type.

WHEREAS....There is a correlation between food insecurity and diabetes

WHEREAS… families in low income areas struggle with providing after school opportunities for their children due to high cost. However, these same families cannot afford to find a caregiver to watch children after school while they are at work.

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1.  Require public schools to implement an after school pilot program for students that is free of cost.

2. This after school program will consist of students planting, growing and harvesting produce as well as learning the nutritional aspects of the food they are growing.

3. Require all students to take surveys that will track their education progress

4.  Allow students to take home the food that they grow for their families.

5. Require students to create a cookbook

6. Allow for older students to volunteer and help teach the younger students how to grow

7. Provide a few sessions each year where students and their families can meet with a specialized nutritionist or dietician. Students and their families can ask questions and learn how to maintain a balanced diet.

8. Track the progression of the garden and amount of harvest each school district achieves. This data will be collected and compared to all other school districts where the pilot program has been implemented.

9. The winner of the competition will receive a monetary prize that goes toward an end of the year event for the club.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

  1. Students will not want to spend more time at school once the school day is over

  2. Funding for after school programs is limited and could be deserved elsewhere

  3. Food grown in a schoolhouse garden will not provide enough fresh produce each week for families living in food deserts to maintain a balanced diet.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?

Our proposal will be taking time out of teachers’ days. Hopefully, though, we could rely on volunteer work to cut the costs of hiring a teacher to stay after school.

The pilot programs will require the direct expense of: indoor garden infrastructure, seeds, soil, gardening equipment (shovels, planters, gloves, etc.), lighting, heat, nutritionist/dietician consultation.

Costs incurred by nutritionist/dietician consultation should be low if we can find specialists that offer their services on a volunteer basis.

Funding for after school pilot programs in select public schools should be provided by various grants from the United States Department of Agriculture and National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Additional funding may come from the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Education.

Additional funding for this program will be given on the basis that the pilot program sees a significant change in the students quality of life. The surveys that will be sent out will help determine whether this program is achieving its goal of eliminating the consequences of food deserts.

Funding must be set aside for the monetary prize given to the school district that has the highest amount of harvest at the end of the school year. The monetary prize can be used at the discretion of the head of the programs at each school.


These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.


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Total votes: 21