4/8/15 - Pine Ridge, South Dakota When I stepped out of the tiny airport in Rapid City, I felt culture shock; I’ve never seen so much nothing. Now in the car, the yellow grasses fly by in a blur as rock formations roll on like waves. This place is unlike any I’ve experienced, but it does hold its own beauty. As the mist settles on the black hills, there’s this quality about the plains that reminds me of water, a familiar stillness, not unlike the ocean at dawn.
As Penn students, most of us are fortunate to have access to healthy foods whenever we want or need them. As a result, It’s easy to be unaware of the food injustices affecting citizens right outside of the Penn ecosystem, in West Philadelphia.
For many Philadelphians, issues such as malnutrition and the prevalence of food deserts—urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable and healthy food—are daily obstacles to leading a healthy life. Because of this, youth in Philadelphia are more likely to buy tasty but unhealthy and inexpensive food from local convenience stores. One of the most distressing consequences of these food injustices is the fact that Philadelphia has the highest rate of obesity among high school students alone in the US and a 20% obesity rate of children between 5 and 18 years old.
In 2002’s State of the Union address, George Bush asserted that the United States had “the finest health care system in the world.” Today, no politician would dare make that claim for fear of being laughed out of office. Even in 2000, a system developed by the World Health Organization that ranked nations based on quality and access to healthcare placed the United States in 37th place, sandwiched between Costa Rica and Slovenia.