Local nonprofit raising concerns about fast food near Boston schools


Marlon Solomon was pleased when the college his two young children show up at, Boston Preparatory Constitution Faculty, moved absent from Cleary Sq. in Hyde Park two many years back. 

“It was really close to a McDonald’s,” he explained to Boston.com. 

But, it turns out, the school’s new area on River Avenue is slated to get a fast food neighbor throughout the avenue — Burger King. The cafe chain will be nearer to the college than the actively playing fields exactly where learners follow athletics, Solomon pointed out. 

“As a parent, I found it quite offensive that somebody would actually be so brazen as to put a Burger King right across the street,” he mentioned. 

The community has been embroiled in a discussion above the fast food cafe considering that early this yr, in accordance to Boston Bulletin, and Solomon mentioned he began a petition to oppose the cafe transferring in. The city’s licensing board granted acceptance for the franchise in May well, pursuing a contentious listening to exactly where community teams expressed break up thoughts on bringing the area to River Avenue, Common Hub experiences

Adhering to the acceptance, Solomon, a civil engineer and founder of the nonprofit Afrimerican Tradition Initiative, mentioned he felt compelled to consider a nearer search at the proximity of fast food burger chains to schools right after listening to arguments from board associates that there was not a saturation of related functions in the spot, when acknowledging that fast food is not healthful.

Working with Google Maps, he plotted the distances involving fast food burger chains and general public schools in Boston, Brookline, and Newton. He seemed for the 3 closest McDonald’s, 3 closest Burger Kings, and 3 closest Wendy’s places to eat to the 4 schools he picked — Boston Preparatory Constitution Faculty, Jeremiah E. Burke Substantial Faculty, Brookline Substantial Faculty, and Newton South Substantial Faculty. He then averaged the distances of the chains to every college to get an normal saturation of the burger chains, in miles, to the college. 

He discovered the normal length to the 3 closest franchises was significantly much less for the Boston schools, which he famous are attended predominantly by learners of colour. 

“I am showing what systematic racism looks like in real life,” Solomon mentioned. “It’s there for everybody to see. It’s not a question of how, when, what, why. It’s right there for you to see. You have the density here in the Black neighborhoods, you don’t have the density” in the other neighborhoods.

Because he only targeted on the 3 certain chains, Solomon pointed out his analysis just captures a portion of the image. In the report, he famous that substantial parts of Chestnut Hill, Brookline, Newton and encompassing household parts have negligible fast food and a greater wide variety of much healthier food selections. 

“Profits mean more than the health of children of color,” he wrote. 

The make-up of your atmosphere — these kinds of as regardless of whether you dwell in a food desert exactly where you have constrained entry to reasonably priced, wholesome food — has important implications for your wellbeing, Sara Bleich, a professor of general public wellbeing plan at the Harvard T.H. Chan Faculty of General public Wellbeing, pressured. 

“We know that food deserts are areas with limited access to affordable nutritious food. In urban areas, they’re much more concentrated where Black people tend to live,” she explained to Boston.com. “And what we know is if you continually have access to inadequate food, you have fewer resources, you’re at higher risk for all sorts of health-related conditions. Like diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease.”

How environments are formed are dependent in systemic racism, she mentioned. 

“If we hone in on the issue at hand, which is fast food intake or fast food restaurants, we know generally that fast food restaurants tend to be more dense and more highly concentrated in low income and minority neighborhoods,” Bleich mentioned. “So not surprisingly then, consumption of fast food also tends to be higher among those groups and those are the same groups that have much higher rates of obesity and then diseases associated with obesity.”

The Harvard professor pressured that 3 components generate why folks consume what they do — selling price, comfort, and flavor. 

“So if you’re a young person and you’re hungry and there’s Burger King 300 feet away, not surprisingly you’re probably going to go there all the time,” she mentioned. “But if it were something else, then likely you would eat at some other type of venue. So the things that are available in your environment really shape your diet, and, in the long term they can shape your health.”

Which is why contemplating critically about the food closest to young children is so significant, Bleich mentioned. 

“It will set their preferences,” Bleich mentioned. “It will set their diet and it can harm their health.”

The Harvard professor mentioned the problem with tackling healthful taking in and being overweight much more broadly is there is not one particular one plan that will make the atmosphere alter and remedy the difficulties of food deserts and the inequities related with them.

“The ‘who is responsible’ is varied,” she mentioned. “It does contain the fast food places to eat. It does contain all of the advertising and marketing that they do, which is typically focused to Black and brown, reduced-cash flow populations. But then there also desires to be plan initiatives to assume about, ‘How do we create an environment which raises up the barriers to unhealthy food and brings down the barriers to healthy food?’

“That could be policies like sugary beverage taxes, like limiting marketing, like requiring that meals served in fast food restaurants don’t include soda when they’re being sold to children,” she mentioned. “Some of these things are already in place in many many parts of the country … There’s all sorts of changes that restaurants could take if they really cared about making meaningful differences.”

Solomon mentioned he hopes his assessment of the density of the fast food places to eat to just 4 of Boston’s schools will assist increase recognition and prompt the advancement of alternatives to produce much healthier selections for the young children in the community.

“It’s not about money,” he mentioned. “It’s about get these Burger Kings out of here, so we can breathe — so our communities and our businesses can breathe.”

See his complete report below.