Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive October 2009 Show 0942 Interview with Richard Morrissette - Food Deserts

Interview with Richard Morrissette - Food Deserts

We visit with state representative Richard Morrissette about why he believes this issue of food deserts needs to be addressed.
Interview with Richard Morrissette - Food Deserts

Richard Morrissette

For more information visit these links:

Food For Life
Kerr Center for Sustainability
Hunger in Oklahoma

Show Dates

Show 0942: Interview with Richard Morrissette - Food Deserts

Air date: October 18, 2009



Rob:  Well this fall, members of the house committee on economic development held an interim study on the social and economic impact food availability has on our state.  Afterwards, I sat down with State Representative Richard Morrissette to see why he believes this is an issue that the legislature needs to address.

Richard:  We have one of the lowest median income levels in the nation.  Median income has to do with economic growth, it has to do with high school and college graduates.  The higher percentage of people you have that are college graduates, the higher the median income level is in any state.  We have one of the highest drop out rates in the nation.  You tie that to economic development and it all correlates.  We have children that are going to schools, especially in economically deprived areas, that are going to school unhealthy.  If a child is unhealthy, a child is not going to learn.  If a child doesn't learn, they are not going to graduate from high school.  So it's like connecting the dots, and all the dots lead back to healthy children.  The idea about healthy foods is to create a child, incentives for parents to send their children to school healthy.

Rob:  And how do we do that?

Richard:  We start talking about placing healthy foods in communities.  I know in north Tulsa they're starting to do that, and they're starting to do that here even in our Oklahoma City near Eugene Fields.  Where they're having community markets, healthy community markets, where their own produce is grown, fruits and vegetables.  You know, I'm old enough to remember, believe it or not, that what my mother said and what my grandmother said was true.  Five servings of vegetables and fruits a day, eat milk, get plenty of exercise, and you have a healthy child.  You have a healthy child, the child's going to learn.  And that's what I'm trying to institute or initiate here in this legislature; is to get this group of policy makers to understand.  We're not criticizing present day Oklahoma, we're trying to make the patient healthier.  And, I think we're beginning to see a change in attitude.  There was a time, not too long ago in this country, where smoking was cool; smoking was considered the in thing to do, and now here we are some forty years later and that exact opposite mentality exists where smoking is completely unhealthy.  The same thing I think can be done with healthy foods as opposed to junk food and unhealthy foods.  We saw a presentation this morning where local grocery markets are almost non-existent; they're extinct.  The big box stores have taken over and even in rural areas there is almost no availability to get healthy foods to families.  What I hope to do in a bipartisan way, and I truly mean that, this is not a political issue, to help communities put together plans to put healthy local markets together for parents to choose healthy foods.

Rob:  This is an issue that's about both Oklahoma's physical and economic health.

Richard:  Absolutely.  You know that old circle we used to learn in grade school, the food chain, you know that goes around;  that's exactly what's going on here.  You start at the very base level and you build up to it and it creates a better, healthier Oklahoma in every sense of the word; whether it's economic health, physical health, health for the future, future of our..., it all ties together.  And I think once people realize that we're not criticizing, or we don't want anyone not to make a profit, or any of those things, we're going to begin to bring health back to our children.

Rob:  Thank you Representative Morrissette.

Richard:  Thank you for having me.

Rob:  Now if you would like to see the full interview of any of the people we visited with today, we have those streaming on our website, as well as a web only feature on fighting childhood obesity.  All you need to do is simply head to our website at and click on this week's value added.