Marshall Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Food Deserts
Congressmen Roger Marshall, Tim Ryan (D-OH), and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation to incentivize food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to help end food deserts.
“Today more than 12 million children identify as food insecure, that’s unacceptable,” Congressman Marshall said. “We need these children enjoying our Kansas commodities like nutritious beef, grain, and milk, not suffering from preventable health conditions like diabetes or obesity. This month is National Nutrition Month, and absolutely no better time for Congress to pass HFAA and band together to ensure that families across the country have access to quality food on their dinner table.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 20 million Americans live in food deserts; areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) legislation sets up a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits that serve low-income and low-access urban and rural areas.
“Our food system is broken and ineffective. In a country where obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing, and where over 20 million people live in food deserts, we cannot allow the status quo to continue. As March marks National Nutrition Month, it’s a stark reminder that we must find new ways for all Americans to have access to fresh, healthy food. This legislation takes a big step in the right direction towards accomplishing that goal, and I’m proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress to get this done. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes economic sense to tackle a food system that is at the root of so much of our sky-high healthcare costs,” Congressman Ryan said.
“Access to healthy, nutritious food should not be dependent on geography,” Congressman McEachin said. “I am committed to addressing hunger and food insecurity, which is why I am proud to reintroduce the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act with Congressman Ryan. This bicameral, bipartisan legislation will create a system of tax credits and grants to help increase the supply of healthy food in underserved communities. We must do everything we can to eliminate food deserts in Virginia and across the country.”
Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced companion legislation in the Senate today.
To qualify for a tax credit or grant for serving qualified food deserts, businesses and nonprofits must be certified as a “Special Access Food Provider (SAFP) by the Treasury Department and USDA. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act qualifies as SAFPs those businesses and nonprofits who service food deserts through the following:
- New Store Construction: New grocery stores in a food desert will receive a one-time 15 percent tax credit (of the property plan and construction) after receiving certification from a regional CDE and Treasury/USDA as a SAFP.
- Retrofitting Existing Structures: Companies that retrofits an existing store’s healthy food sections can receive a one-time 10 percent tax credit after the repairs certify the store as a SAFP.
- Food Banks: Food banks that build new (permanent) structures in food deserts are eligible to receive a one-time grant for 15 percent of their construction costs, after certification as a SAFP.
- Temporary Access Merchants: Mobile markets, farmers markets, and some food banks that are 501©(3)s will receive grants for 10 percent of their service costs for that year.
For a map of areas in Kansas that would qualify to be served as food deserts under this bill, click here.