Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Rural food desert forcing Wisconsin residents to go to Michigan, where state food stamps not valid

Losing its only grocery store last year not only cost residents of rural Hurley, Wisc., (City-Data map) about 30 jobs but also created a food desert, forcing many residents to travel long distances in state or to go across state lines to Michigan to buy food, Danielle Kaeding reports for Wisconsin Public Radio. Driving out of town to another grocery store can be difficult for low-income residents, especially  those who lack the money to pay for gas or don't own a car. Plus, those on the Wisconsin, Infants and Children Program—the state's food stamp program—can't use those dollars out of state.

A spokesperson for a local food pantry said WIC benefits have increased since the grocery store closed, Kaeding writes. That is leading low-income residents to shop for groceries at local gas stations and dollar stores, where the food is cheap but not always nutritious.

Officials in the town of 1,524 have twice applied for and failed to receive a $500,000 Economic Development Corporation grant for "seed money to encourage a developer in Michigan to invest $3.3 million in Hurley’s grocery store," Kaeding writes. Forcing residents to shop in Michigan is also hurting the state's economy, Mayor Joe Pinardi said. He told Kaeding, "It’s $100,000 worth of sales tax revenue that’s not created in Wisconsin because of a grocery store not being there." (Read more)

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