Addressing food deserts

Published 11:23 pm Friday, September 27, 2019

By Rep. Donald McEachin

This past August, during the district work period, I was pleased to host two events in the Suffolk area.

The first event was a town hall about health care that I co-hosted with my colleague, Congressman Scott. Attended by about 200 people, questions ranged from local issues such as the Deep Creek Bridge project to national issues such as President Trump’s disregard for environmental protections.

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I also hosted a “Coffee with Your Congressman” in Surry to discuss food deserts. Food deserts are areas where families do not have close access to nutritious, reasonably priced foods. This is a problem in urban, suburban and rural areas. To help address the troubling number of food deserts in Virginia and around the country, Sen. Mark Warner and I have introduced legislation, the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act, to incentivize food retailers, from grocery stores to farmers’ markets, to set up in food deserts.

I am so appreciative of all the folks who came out to these events. I learn so much from these town halls about what my constituents’ concerns are and how I can best represent them in Congress. Our democracy is strongest when citizens are engaged and involved.

Furthermore, this month we are very excited to announce a special opportunity for the young people of my district. As you may know, the environment and the future health of our planet is a critical priority for me. I have worked diligently to prohibit offshore drilling in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia. This drilling could lead to a disaster, killing marine flora and fauna and destroying ways of life for watermen while damaging fishing, tourism and other Virginia industries.

I have been so impressed by the work, commitment and passion shown by youth around the world to improve the environment, particularly after the Youth Climate Strike. Greta Thunberg and her dedicated climate army are an inspiration to all of us. That is why I am excited to share that we are launching “Eco Heroes,” a program for elementary school kids that encourages them to show their passion for the environment and be Eco Heroes. Participating students will complete a series of environmentally focused challenges to learn more about the importance of being eco-friendly in our daily lives. This program emphasizes the small and easy ways you can make a difference.

To register yourself, your child or another youth in your life, send an email to before Oct. 14. For those who successfully complete the program, I will be hosting a reception for them with their parents and they will each receive a certificate. I hope to meet many, many young EcoHeroes, so join the program and become a Fourth District Eco Hero!

We will also be hosting a Mobile McEachin in Suffolk this month on Oct. 8 at the Oakdale/Magnolia/Pierce Park Civic League meeting at Oak Grove Baptist Church at 6:30 p.m. This is an opportunity for constituents to meet with a congressional staffer to get assistance with issues with a federal agency. We are particularly happy to be able to offer these opportunities in localities where we don’t have a district office or, in this case, outside of regular business hours. I would encourage you, if you need help, to please attend.

If you are unable to attend the Mobile McEachin on Oct. 8 and have an issue or problem with a federal agency, my office is happy to help. Just go to my website,, to get started. We are also happy to record your opinion on any news topic.

Congressman A. Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.