As a registered dietitian and resident of the southeast side, I object to the construction of a convenience store at 14th Street and Mount Vernon Road SE. This is approximately one block from McKinley Middle School.
In the Cedar Rapids school district, one of five 5th-graders is obese, meaning their weight is one-third or more above what would be considered healthy. This rate is 4 percent higher than the national average, and the percentage rises every year.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation confirms marketing to vulnerable children is pervasive and influences children’s decisions at the store. Sound research also has shown that when schools are within walking distance of unhealthy food sources, including convenience stores, more students tend to be overweight.
A company whose profit center is supplying processed food, alcohol and tobacco in brightly lit, colorful packaging to a neighborhood working hard to become a healthier, safer place to live is counterproductive to the efforts that the City of Cedar Rapids and many private citizen groups are making.
The Cedar Rapids Blue Zones Initiative, Matthew 25, nearby churches, and the New Bo City Market, are a few examples of groups working to improve access to affordable, healthy foods and a healthy community. Let’s continue to work toward finding positive and community-building solutions for this neighborhood and not just listen to the siren song of a shiny new object to hail as economic progress.
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