More on Houston’s deserts (food, mobility, and journalism)

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Survey: Some areas in Houston lack grocery stores – Andy Cerota, KTRK-13 News

Fresh, healthy affordable food is not something Acres Homes residents take for granted.

“We have to go all the way out to I-45 and West Road to get to Walmart,” resident Julie Hobley said.

They live in what’s called a “food desert,” a section of the city without enough access to grocery stores. What’s more is that this area is not alone.

“In Houston, food deserts are a big problem. We have more food deserts than other metropolitan cities in the US,” said Laura Spanjian with the city of Houston.

What is KTRK’s deal with this press release reporting on “food deserts?”

As was the case with Ted Oberg’s horrible reporting on this topic, “food desert” is not defined in any meaningful sense (what is “enough access to grocery stores?” Beats me. KTRK apparently isn’t sharing, other than one bureaucrat’s view whose job appears to involve figuring out ways to squander taxpayer dollars on remedying this “problem”).

And here’s a fun stat, repeated authoritatively:

It’s a big deal when you consider some 440,000 Houston-area residents don’t have access to good, quality nutritious food at low prices.

Did Cerota just pull that out of his posterior, or did that number come from some big-government bureaucrat? Again, beats me. KTRK doesn’t say.

Once more, there’s not one voice in the story asking why in the world this is a problem for the city to solve (read: squander taxpayer dollars). Just cheerleading. And there is certainly nobody raising the “Mobility Desert” question we did in our last blog post on this topic, which brings us to this:

Metro hearing will mull route changes – Caroline Evans,

Commuters who ride the bus might have to find a different route to work by January.

On Dec. 5, Metro will hold a public hearing on a proposal that would eliminate several bus routes, including the 49 Chimney Rock Crosstown, the 313 Allen Parkway Special and the 35 Fairview, which goes through River Oaks on San Felipe.

The 2003 referendum promised a 50% increase in bus service. Instead, it is cut, year after year after year, so METRO can funnel more money to a tram buildout that will serve few people.

Poor people who live in “food deserts” could probably use reliable bus service to address their shopping needs. METRO instead tells them their declining bus service is a “service enhancement” and big-government pols at City Hall try to figure out ways to squander taxpayer dollars by bribing grocery stores to build in neighborhoods that otherwise don’t appeal to them (with cheerleading from KTRK and the Chron). Neat!

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX