Proposed Legislation Takes Aim at Food Deserts
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of senators have introduced the Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act, the first comprehensive legislation in the U.S. Senate to eradicate food deserts by enlisting the aid of such food providers as grocers, retailers and nonprofit organizations.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), would create a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits serving low-income and low-access urban and rural areas. An estimated 37 million Americans live in such areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act would incentivize food providers to establish themselves in communities where people lack access to healthy, affordable food by encouraging the construction and establishment of grocery stores, food banks and farmers markets," Moran said.
In order to qualify for a tax credit or grant for servicing qualifying food deserts, businesses and nonprofits would have to be certified as a "Special Access Food Provider" by the U.S. Treasury Department and the USDA. This would be based on criteria such as new store construction in a food desert and retrofitting healthy food sections of existing stores.
"Every person should have access to affordable and nutritious food regardless of where they live," Warner added. "By incentivizing food producers to go into communities where food access is a problem, we can help guarantee that fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the places where they are needed most."
The full text of the bill is available online here.
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