Are Food Stamps Exacerbating Food Disparities?

          According to the official report on, Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Detroit, the greatest contributor to the rise in fringe food options along and negative diet-related health effects of food imbalance does not seem to be fast food, but USDA Food Stamp retailers (1). In the study, it states that predominantly poor food purchasing choices are available through USDA Food Stamp retailers in Detroit and that it is extremely likely that their widespread concentration negatively impacts not only poor families, but also middle and upper income residents who have difficulty reaching mainstream grocers on a regular basis (1). Even though government funded food stamp programs, such as SNAPs, are beneficial and aid the residents of Southeast Michigan, it seems to be working against them. More than half of all USDA Food Stamp retailers are liquor stores, party stores, gas stations, dollar stores, or convenience stores, none of which offer fresh produce.  This equates to 8% of all Detroit Food Stamp retailers being small, medium, or large grocery stores and the remaining 92% consisting fringe food stores (1). Stores that specialize in the distribution of alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets and a small selection of prepackaged and canned foods products. It appears to make more sense to someone who doesn’t have access to private or public transportation, or time to travel all the way to the nearest grocer when they can walk right down the street and use their food stamps at a local fringe food store.

            Food Stamps themselves are not the issue, but a person using them to purchase their daily meals at a nearby fringe food distributor is. It all comes back to the reoccurring issue, people’s limited access to grocers carrying fresh and nutritious foods needed to create a healthy and balanced diet.  All of the “grocery” shopping done at fringe food stores plays a major role in the increase of diet related diseases and decrease in the overall life expectancy of people living in Southeast, Michigan. There must to be more steps taken in these areas of Michigan suffering from food disparities to insure constant access to fresh and healthy food. Again, it is a mission that must to be taken on by all people, businesses, and government aids with in and surrounding these communities suffering from food disparities.


(1) Gallagher, Mari. Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Detroit. Publication. Chicago: Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group, 2007. Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group. LaSalle Bank, 19 June 2007. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.