March 25, 2016
Last year, four Double 8 Foods grocery stores closed in our community. These stores were located in low-income neighborhoods where many families lack a car or reliable public transportation to get to the nearest alternative, often located over a mile away.
Sadly, this situation is not unique. Over 29 million people, almost 10 percent of the U.S. population, live without ready access to affordable, nutritious food. Many have seen their local stores close their doors during the recent economic downturn. Others lost access years ago and are now facing the serious long-term impacts of obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and other diet related ailments. Unfortunately, residents in these low-income areas tend to spend less on groceries, leaving little financial incentive for traditional grocery chains to make costly investments in new locations.
In the wealthiest country on Earth, nutritious food should be an expectation, not a luxury. That is why I have introduced the Food Deserts Act in Congress, legislation which creates new avenues to fund for-profit, non-profit, and municipally owned stores in underserved communities. This bill will create USDA funded, state operated revolving funds that will issue low interest loans for the operation of grocery stores in food deserts. The bill ensures that recipients of these loans will provide affordable, healthy food, including fresh produce and staples like milk, bread and meat. It will also ensure that USDA professionals are available to provide technical assistance to recipients who need it.
|Congressman Carson introduces his Food Desert Bill at a press conference in Indianapolis
Access to healthy food is something that many of us take for granted. But despite our own experiences, we need to remember that millions of Americans are struggling every day to feed their families. With this market driven approach, I hope to complement existing federal programs and efforts around the country by ensuring a stable lending stream for struggling grocery stores and sustainable access to food for communities in need.
As always, if you have any questions or opinions you would like to share with me, I encourage you to contact me.