John's Proposal on Hunger and Health in Michigan

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

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

My pamphlet: Hunger and Health in Michigan 

2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Mason Anderson Age: 17  School/occupation: High School Student  Location: Highland Park, MI    Quote: "No matter where life takes me, you can find me with a smile."    About
  • Attends Highland Park Community High School 
  • Parents are divorced, raised by a single mother 
  • Has three younger siblings 
  • Only eats fast food 
Goals:
  • Attend college 
  • Buy a house for his mom
  • Make sure his family never has to worry about money again 
  • Lose weight and become healthier 

Photo of Mason Anderson

POV Statement:
  • User: Mason, a hard-working high school student hoping to go to college to support his impoverished family 
  • Need: Mason needs to get his health in check. Due to food insecurity, he is constantly consuming fast food, is very overweight and as a result, this has compromised his health and future life expectancy. 
  • Insight: Mason wants to attend college, receive a high-paying job and move his family out of Highland Park. He knows that he can only achieve this goal if he is healthy enough to live on his own. Therefore, Mason wants to develop a better relationship with food and exercise in order to ensure that he is capable of succeeding in college on his own. 
 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

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

SOLUTION 1: Food insecurity rates are directly linked to income and living wages. Businesses could create more jobs and pay a living wage by raising the minimum wage. This way, more families will be able to afford sustainable groceries, regardless of food prices decreasing. 

SOLUTION 2: In efforts to lower unemployment rates, the government could create major jobs programs such as the AmeriCorps National Service Program. This program allows for people to pay for college by serving thier communities. With higher education rates, individuals should be able to achieve higher paying jobs and thus afford food for their families, diminishing food insecurity rates. 

SOLUTION 3: Encourage everyday people to raise money for food pantries. Small non-profits need more people and volunteers should consider serving on boards. They could help with newsletters, teach nutrition education, aid in web design and/or help with accounting. The more help these non-profit organizations receive, the more people will be able to get food stamps and help their kids get healthy meals. 

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

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:

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

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

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: Sammi Haber Brondo, MS, RD, CDN. Haber is a registered Dietitian and creator of Nutrition Works, a company designed to help individuals through nutrition counseling and life coaching. She is an expert in meal support therapy for patients with various eating disorder, including obesity, binge eating disorder, anorexia and bulimia. She liked my idea of rewarding SNAP participants an extra 50 cents for buying fruits and vegetables. However, she was skeptical of the questionnaire. She thought it could be helpful in finding a way to encourage participants to get outside and walk for activity, instead of simply measuring their current education on physical education and nutrition. 

CONSULTATION 2: Rep. Andre Carson. Carson is a Representative for Indiana and has been in office since 2008. Carson introduced the 2017 Food Deserts Act in Congress. The bill creates new avenues to fund stores in underserved communities by facilitating low interest loans for new and existing grocery stores in food deserts. The bill ensures that recipients of these loans will use them to provide affordable, healthy food, such as fresh produce, milk, bread and meat. Carson liked my proposal idea of rewarding SNAP participants extra money for buying a targeted list of foods, as this is somewhat modeled after his Congressional act. However, Carson noted that the rewards such potentially be geared towards the suppliers rather than the participants. Instead of financially rewarding individuals for purchasing certain types of foods, my proposal could reward convenience stores and other food suppliers for offering healthier options. 

CONSULTATION 3: Eileen Spring. Spring is the CEO and President of the Food Gatherers team since 1994. The mission of Food Gatherers is to provide the best possible service to the community by serving people who experience hunger and contaminated food. Food Gatherers encourages widespread communal participation and mass distribution of nutritious food. Ms. Spring noted that my proposal was very similar to the Double Up Food Bucks program which allows participants to buy $1 fruits and veggies with a Bridge Card and get $1 free fruits and veggies with the Double Up Food Bucks. As a result, Ms. Spring was very supportive of my proposal but noted that the Double Up Food program has been somewhat difficult to implement across all areas of Michigan, most notably Flint. Therefore, Ms. Spring suggested utilizing electronic systems to permit easier Bridge Card and ID customer service desk sign-ups. 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.?

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.... In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 million Americans were food insecure, equalling about 40 million Americans, including 12 million children. 

WHEREAS.... Michigan has a food insecurity rate of 14.2 percent, the highest amongst Midwest states and one of the highest in the nation. 

WHEREAS....In 2013, all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants witnessed a drop in their benefits by $36 for a family of four. 

WHEREAS.... 1 in 4 food-insecure Michiganians has a household income too high to qualify for many food and nutrition assistance programs. 

WHEREAS....More than 160,000 Michigan seniors struggle to pay for their food. 

WHEREAS....Only 41 percent of eligible seniors have enrolled in SNAP compared to 83 percent of the entire SNAP-eligible population. 

WHEREAS.... An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. About 75 percent of American men and over 60 percent of American women are obese or overweight. 

WHEREAS.... In 2015-2016, 20.6 percent of children ages 12 to 19 had obesity. This teenage obesity rate is four times higher than its first recording in 1976. 

WHEREAS.... Michigan's adult obesity rate is currently 32.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 1990.

WHEREAS....The current obesity rate for 10 to 17 year olds in Michigan is 17.3 percent, which is 12th highest amongst all US states. Michigan is 9th highest in obesity rates amongst high school students as well. 

WHEREAS....Only 26.7 percent of Michigan adolescents report daily physical activity and 39.7 percent of Michigan adolescents reported consuming fruit less than one time per day. 

WHEREAS....Michigan public elementary and middle schools do not require students to participate in physical education. 

WHEREAS....Michigan elementary, middle and high schools do not require students to participate in a minimum amount of physical education. 

WHEREAS....Michigan elementary schools do not require recess. 

WHEREAS....Michigan does not require preemption laws related to food and nutrition policy such as limiting local government's ability to restrict the sale of food based on nutritional value or requiring restaurants to post caloric information. 

 

(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).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. Launch the "Healthy Incentives Pilot Program" in Michigan. 

2. This program will provide incentives for agriculture, grocery and convenience store industries to offer affordable healthy food in impoverished areas and fund healthy school lunch programs. 

3. Low income households will be given an extra 50 cents for every dollar of SNAP benefits that they spend on a targeted list of fruits and vegetables offered by participating retailers. 

4. On top of these incentives, SNAP participants will be required to partake in an "Eating Habits and Physical Exercise" questionnaire as part of the "Healthy Incentives Pilot Program." This questionnaire will measure education surrounding nutrition and daily healthy exercise patterns. 

5. This questionnaire will help raise awareness about healthy nutrition and exercise regimes amongst participants. Promotion of healthy diets and education on proper exercise patterns backed by financial incentives should increases fruit and vegetable intake as well as reduce obesity rates. 

6. With increased awareness surrounding what constitutes a healthy diet, participants can implement better nutrition standards in their personal life choices. This could include making smarter choices at school lunches and choosing to participate in physical education school programs. 

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Although fruit and vegetable consumption should result in a healthier diet, caloric needs could still be exceeded. For example, potatoes are a vegetable and therefore if an individual were to consume copious amounts of white potatoes, then they may still exceed their caloric demands, regardless of assuming that increased vegetable consumption is "healthier." Individuals must still understand caloric values and calories in vs. calories out, in order to reduce weight and obesity rates. 

2. This proposal doesn't focus on macro or micronutrient demands. Diets consisting of only fruits or vegetables could be deficient in essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, two dietary components that are needed to be extrapolated from dietary intake as our bodies do not produce these on our own. Without macronutrient demands being met, individuals may be deficient in certain micronutrients such as fat soluble vitamins, which could hinder health.  

3. Furthermore, there may be an incomplete awareness of this program. This program can only be implemented by SNAP participants, but as previously mentioned, a large issue with food insecurity in Michigan is the lack of knowledge surrounding SNAP-eligibility. Certain individuals, mainly seniors, qualify for SNAP, but have yet to enroll in its benefits. Without being a part of SNAP, individuals would not be able to reap the benefits of this new program. Therefore, emphasis should be placed on encouraging individuals to enroll in SNAP prior to taking part in the "Healthy Incentives Pilot Program."

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)?  

Based off of funding reports for prior Food Deserts programs such as the Food Desserts Act of 2017, Farm Bill for the Double Up Food Bucks Program and Federal government state grants for the USDA, I was able to estimate a somewhat accurate cost. I will pay for my proposed legislation by relying on everyday people to raise money for food pantries. Therefore, taxes will not be raised and the funding will solely come from personal donations. However, this is not to say that the costs will be cheap. For example, the 2018 Farm bill prescribed $45 million in 2019 for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, known as Double Up Food Bucks. Since the Double Up Food Bucks program only influences Michigan grocery stores, I think that this target number is more than enough. Furthermore, this $45 million allotment was estimated to fund the program for more than 10 years. I want to set my funding target at $9 million. This would realistically fund my Healthy Incentives Pilot Program for over two years. Michigan municipal governments would then be able to reassess if this program is effective within this time window. If the program is a success, then further funding will be encouraged. On the contrary, if the program is a total failure, then it can be discontinued after two years without a huge economic strain on volunteers. Assuming this program is implemented, the funding would prioritize grocery store locations that are open longer hours and open more parts of the year. This way, food incentives would reach a larger audience and thus help more people. However, local farmers markets or non-retail grocery stores may object to this program as their business opportunities may be stunted. This program would encourage retail shopping in food deserts and thus these types of larger stores would see success in terms of produce sales. As a result, smaller food co-ops or local markets may be outraged in the lack of customer business, prompting them to object to my program. 

References:

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

https://www.thepacker.com/article/farm-bill-increases-funding-double-food-bucks-produce-program

https://carson.house.gov/newsroom/past-e-newsletters/addressing-our-food-desert-crisis

https://reason.com/blog/2016/06/13/500-million-later-usda-on-food-deserts

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3104

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Total votes: 19

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