Lack of supermarkets gets lawmakers attention - WKRN News 2

Lack of supermarkets gets lawmakers attention

Posted: Updated: March 13, 2013 05:03 PM

A group of advocates for healthy living walked to the only grocery store downtown in an effort to bring attention to what they describe as a food desert on Wednesday.

The Tennessee Obesity Task force walked from Legislative Plaza to the H. G. Hills Urban Market on Church Street to illustrate the difficulty that Tennesseans living in food deserts face in buying healthy foods.

"A food desert is where people live and do not have access to healthy and affordable foods. Either because they live too far away from it, or they can't afford it," said Joan Randall from the Tennessee Obesity Task force.

According to a recent USDA report, 2.3 million, or 2.2% of all households, live more than a mile from a supermarket and do not have access to a vehicle.

Eleven point five million people, or 4.1% of people, who live below the poverty line in low income areas are more than a mile from a supermarket.

Food deserts areas are linked with higher rates of negative health outcomes.

"We need more supermarkets more fresh foods, better foods in area instead of processed foods where many children have to subsist on now," said Tennessee Representative Craig Fitzhugh, who participated in the walk.

Supporters are hoping to draw the attention of state lawmakers to propose a bill that would provide seed money to independent grocers that would help build or establish grocery stores in those areas.

Scott Means from H. G Hill told Nashville's News 2 that he supports the idea.

"Having the seed money to get started, to build a building to put the equipment in, to put the inventory in, once we get over that hurdle hopefully we can have enough business to sustain us. As a viable business," Means said.

The Tennessee Obesity Task force is a broad-based, statewide coalition of scientists, clinicians, city planners, school officials, state agencies, policymakers, transportation experts, nutritionists, parents, concerned citizens and others committed to improving Tennessee's status as one of the most unfit states in the country.

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