U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-Pa., introduced legislation today to support the two-year-old Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a national, market-based approach to bring jobs and investment to underserved communities -- known as food deserts -- where healthy food options are scarce or unaffordable.
Schwartz's bill would authorize $125 million to continue HFFI and help make more grocery stores, farmers' markets, food cooperatives and other options accessible by providing one time start-up grants and affordable loan financing. HFFI is modeled after the successful Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.
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"More than 25 million Americans lack access to healthy foods and this crisis demands aggressive action," Schwartz said in a statement. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative will expand food options in underserved areas, improve the health of children and families, and spark local economic development. As we continue to reinvigorate our economy, this public-private partnership will create good-paying jobs, help people live longer and healthier lives, and strengthen our neighborhoods."
Schwartz's bill is a companion measure to legislation (S 821) U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced in the Senate.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 24 million Americans live in "food deserts," defined as either urban areas without access to a supermarket within one mile, or rural areas lacking similar access within 10 miles.