Shackleford’s healthy food financing program to combat food deserts

January 12, 2016 Robin Shackleford

For immediate release:
Jan. 12, 2016

 

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) announced today she is continuing her efforts to eliminate food deserts across the state of Indiana.

Shackleford authored House Bill 1077 to establish a healthy food financing fund and healthy food financing program to support Indiana residents living in food deserts. These areas, as defined by the USDA, lack access to grocery stores and similar institutions, limiting the availability of healthy food options.

Five rural counties and 51 urban counties in Indiana are currently classified as food deserts, meaning a number of Indiana residents are without access to healthy, affordable food. In response to this issue, Shackleford’s legislation would provide financial assistance to businesses and nonprofits interested in bringing nutritious options to these underserved areas.

“Currently, 59 percent of Indiana counties are food deserts,” said Shackleford. “These areas need access to healthy options for themselves and their families.”

Administration of the program would be handled by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

“During this meeting of the general assembly, our goal is to set up a structure for the loan and grant program,” Shackleford said.

“By taking this action, we will be on our way to ensuring that all Hoosiers have access to the food they need to sustain a healthy lifestyle.”

Grocery stores, retailers, food distribution companies, farmer’s markets and those interested in education and outreach would be eligible to apply for the program. The funds would provide an opportunity for new organizations to enter into an underserved area and enable current organizations to expand or renovate.

“With new businesses entering into the community, improvements to Hoosier health would not be the only predicted outcome,” said Shackleford. “The program is also projected to boost the state’s economy, increase the number of jobs, decrease healthcare costs and build a sense of community in each area.

“This is a big step in ensuring that low- to moderate-income families have the opportunity to live their best lives,” continued Shackleford. “It is time we see a healthier Indiana.”

Shackleford has demonstrated her commitment to improving quality of life in Indiana during past sessions. After passing legislation on both a new health tele-pilot program and the licensing of diabetes educators, Shackleford continues to make significant improvements in the lives of Hoosiers.