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Tri-City Herald

Report on minorities

Administrators at Washington State University Tri-Cities say they are proud of the school’s recent recognition for advocating and supporting minority students.

And they should be. Any effort to promote diversity on a college campus should be encouraged.

The accolades come from a report by The Education Trust, a Washington D.C.-based organization which works to reduce achievement gaps between student groups. It has honored the entire WSU system for improving the number of minority students enrolled at its campuses throughout the state, where the number has tripled since 2001.

The Richland campus has been a factor in this trend, and now has five times as many minority students there as when the university opened in 2007 with the first freshman class.

Minorities make up more than a quarter of the WSU system’s nearly 29,000 students, and the graduation rate for those students across all campuses is at 60 percent. The report noted that many universities and colleges around the country have either seen little improvement in minority enrollment and graduation rates, or a decline.

The difference is that WSU has made it a point to diversify its campuses, which is commendable. Our Richland campus has been a huge contributor to this goal, and has done a great job of attracting minority students, and helping them make it through. Well done.

Food deserts

Four years ago, several large supermarket chains promised to open or expand stores in impoverished neighborhoods around the country.

But little progress has been made and “food deserts” still exist. It’s disheartening and frustrating.

Low-income families should have the same wholesome food choices as everyone else, but major grocers tend to avoid locating supermarkets in impoverished neighborhoods where it is difficult to make a profit.

Traveling miles away to grocery shop isn’t easy for low-income families struggling to put food on the table, so processed foods and snacks at convenience stores end up becoming meals because that’s what is available.

It is shameful that in a country where we have so much that there are 18 million Americans who live in communities designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as food deserts.

In the Tri-Cities, we are fortunate to be close to farms and food processors, so fresh produce is not hard to find. Our community has several farmers markets throughout much of the year and grocery stores are abundant. It is hard to imagine what it might be like to live where there aren’t apples and grapes sitting in a bowl on a kitchen counter, readily available.

But the reality is some people likely go days without eating something that doesn’t come from a can.

A lack of access to healthy food is bad for people’s health — obviously. Grocers need to step up and figure out a way to help alleviate this deplorable situation.