Going to the grocery store is something most of us take for granted. But for 29.7 million people in America living in food deserts — areas where it’s difficult to buy affordable, healthy food — going to the grocery store is anything but easy. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, more than half the population lives in tracts designated as having no or low access to healthy food.
Fortunately, there’s a solution: healthy food financing, which creates public-private partnerships that provide critical loan and grant financing to help retailers selling healthy, affordable food overcome the higher initial barriers to entry into low-income and underserved communities.
Once grocery stores have been built in underserved communities, the results are dramatic. In Pennsylvania, an initial grant of $30 million created 88 new grocery stores, 5,000 new jobs, $190 million in total investment, and brought healthy food choices to 400,000 people who wouldn’t otherwise have access.
It’s time for Florida to consider a healthy-food financing program. Today 410,363 of our South Florida neighbors live in food deserts. Isn’t it time they had access to affordable, healthy food?
Tiffany Sizemore-Ruiz, president, board of directors, American Heart and Stroke Association, Fort Lauderdale