Opinion | How bad are Michigan’s roads? It’s even affecting food banks

Phil Knight

Phil Knight is executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan

At the Food Bank Council of Michigan, it’s our mission to make Michigan a food secure state, ensuring no family or child goes hungry. Food insecurity, the inability to know if you will have enough food for the foreseeable future, creates an environment of toxic stress that contributes to challenges with health, education and workforce retention. 

This stubborn but solvable problem affects the youngest to the oldest. I’ve never met anyone who wants kids to go hungry, seniors to suffer or working families to struggle with having enough food. Everyone I know in our Michigan Legislature and the governor’s office and business community wants to drive hunger out of Michigan. 

Our network relies on state roads and bridges to deliver food to our network of food pantries as we work to end hunger. This is why we support efforts to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. It’s no secret to our transportation teams that we have some of the worst roads anywhere. In fact, last year the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the state’s roads a “D-minus.”

Our drivers cover over 2 million miles every year, transporting food among a network of nearly 3,000 pantries. It seems they know every bump and pothole in the state – and there are plenty. In fact, in 2018 alone we spent over $4 million on transportation expenses so our fleet could deliver more than 205 million pounds of food to our hungry neighbors. 

An investment in the state’s infrastructure is an investment in our future and will help the Food Bank Council of Michigan continue its work to end food insecurity in Michigan. If you prioritize food security in someone’s life, you bring them stability, empowerment and better health – all of which have a positive economic impact on the individual and their family. FBCM believes that the increased expenditures in fuel now will result in long-term savings on maintenance. 

I am convinced that if you’re hungry, you only have one problem: Figuring out where your next meal is coming from. If we can take hunger off the table by working together and putting food first, then we empower Michiganders across the state to become more self-sufficient.

Housed within the proposed budgets are innovative solutions to support our efforts to go to the next level of food security. For example, the governor wants to create a position that addresses food insecurity across our state. This position would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and put Michigan on the road to a more food secure state. There is strategic support from the legislature that sets aside funding to address food insecurity in some of the state’s most rural areas. 

Therefore, I urge our leaders in the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to work together to find a long-term solution to fix our roads and bridges. Then, we can get to work implementing innovative solutions that allow us to go to meet the needs of our working families, kids and seniors.

Together, we can fix more than just the roads. We can become the first state that drives out hunger. So why not do so on newly paved roads and solid bridges?

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Tue, 08/20/2019 - 8:18am

A sterling example of what's wrong in our welfare industry. Our main problem isn't that people isolate themselves in pockets of economic stagnation. It isn't that we've allowed dysfunctional behavior, substance abuse and mental illness engulf a large part of society, it's that we don't tax ourselves enough. Funny as I travel extensively in rural Michigan - exactly the areas that are among our poorest, the one thing I come away with is the roads aren't bad at all!

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 10:25am

Automated capitalism (really any capitalism) cannot sustain itself without some manner of welfare. Ffs, structural unemployment is necessary to suppress wages in the form of the surplus army of labor. But why would any of that concern you? You've never read economic theory, you just repeat Reagan era propaganda about welfare queens stealing pennies while ignoring the oligarchs that steal billions

middle of the mit
Thu, 08/22/2019 - 8:52pm

Hey Mat, read a newspaper from any town in Northern Mi.

We have nice roads because we are willing to tax ourselves for roads, on the county level. And we do that because we have a lot of retirees and biznzziz that need to cater to other vacationers to come up here.

While you are on those roads you will need to look out for drunks mainly, then methheads, then the pharma people then the other street drugs. The one thing that is almost unheard of?

The one thing conservatives and the police have been saying will be the end of us all. Cannabis

Yet the only end I see is an end to possession and jail time .

The point Matt is this: What you perceive as reality should be pot smokers smoking at home and not driving.
Roads are a PUBLIC commodity. WE ALL USE THEM.

I really don't like it when I go out and other people are in my way on roads that I pay just as many taxes for as they do, but yet they don't seem to function as well as me on the road. Guess what?

We should put toll booths at the end of every driveway. Privatize all the roads and road building and let the chips fall where they may!

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 8:29am

Phil- Stick in your lane, to food, please. Gleaners is forever expanding providing food backpacks to families that don't want them. How does Gleaners balance perpetuating dependence vs providing for those truly in need or on a temporary basis? or don't they? How many of their clients come from generational dependence? There are unintended consequences to programs like this ever expanding business...Now the new buzzword is Food Insecurity. Let's change the culture of single parents without a father in the home. We have more jobs than job seekers in this country, a US Record.

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 12:35am

“Housed within the proposed budgets are innovative solutions to support our efforts to go to the next level of food security. For example, the governor wants to create a position that addresses food insecurity across our state. This position would be the first of its kind in the U.S. and put Michigan on the road to a more food secure state.” To Mr. Knight innovation seems to be naming a new position, without any expectations of what that person would deliver or how they would function in elimination hunger as an individual’s concern in Michigan. All Mr. Knight seems to want is Michigan being the first to have this job title created. Another person on the State’s payroll that does nothing and MLive can post an article about the Governor wanting to improve meal deliveries.
Mr. Knight is another of those who sees Lansing as a way into the wallet of taxpayer while avoiding accountability of that money and the programs that it will spend that money. Mr. Knight talks a lot, but he says nothing. He clams to want Michigan to be the first to solve the hunger problem for many and without ever offing new ideas for achieving this lofty goal.
Mr. Knight if all the ideas you have for solving hunger in Michigan are the ideas of the past or the ideas being used today, which haven't solved the problem then why don't you ask the Michigan taxpayers, that you want to pay for this, for their perspective, for their ideas, for their commitment to solving the problem?