Letters to the Editor

Fresh, healthy food

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