Bill Would Plant Supermarkets in Food Deserts
New legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Nuydia Velazquez,
both of New York, would invest $1 billion in federal loans and grants to help
build 2,100 grocery stores in under-served areas throughout the U.S. The proposed
Healthy Food Financing Initiative legislation builds on a similar $345 million
proposal the Obama Administration has put in its 2011 budget.
In a press conference to introduce the legislation, speakers brought up the
link between obesity and related diseases with the lack of access to stores
selling nutritious foods. So-called food deserts tend to be populated by fast
food restaurants and convenience stores that sell a higher proportion of packaged
snacks and sugary drinks.
"We have a health crisis in this country, in terms of obesity, diabetes,
heart disease and high blood pressure, that is disproportionately impacting low-income
people and communities of color," said Angela Glover Blackwell, founder & CEO
of national research and action institute PolicyLink. "Nationally, only
eight percent of African Americans currently live in a census tract with a
supermarket, and far too many Blacks and Latinos reside in areas underserved
by a grocery store. To ensure that people are eating healthy diets, we must
push to make healthier choices available in their neighborhoods. With the announcement
of this new legislation, we are taking a pro-active step towards expanding
fresh food access and creating jobs in communities that have struggled without
both for far too long."
Sen. Gillibrand said the bill, if enacted into law, would deliver a number
of concrete benefits. Speaking of her home state, she said, "Millions
of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. By building new grocery
stores in underserved areas across the state we can give people the opportunity
to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create
tens of thousands of good-paying jobs."
Discussion Questions: Do you
think enactment would help improve the health of consumers in food deserts
while creating jobs and business opportunities for grocery store operators?
Should the grocery industry and food manufacturers be lobbying for enactment
of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative?
- 3 Million New York City Residents
Living in High Need Neighborhoods, Lack Reliable Access to Fresh and Healthy
Food – Kirsten Gillibrand, United States
Senator for New York
Tackles Food Deserts – Food Safety News