State Representative Sandra Scott (D-Rex) recently introduced House Bill 321, or the “Healthy Food Program Development Act,” legislation which would create a state program to expand access to healthy foods in communities with “food deserts.”
“Georgians are experiencing hunger daily,” said Rep. Scott. “We have ‘food deserts’ throughout Georgia, and this legislation would address ‘food deserts’ and provide access to healthy food. The Healthy Food Program Development Act would offer grocery stores and other retailers incentives to stock healthy and substantial food at affordable prices during these difficult times.”
Under HB 321, the Georgia Department of Human Services would establish the Healthy Food Development Program “to expand access to healthy foods in eligible areas in this state by providing assistance to grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets and other small food retailers.” This program would award grants, loans, tax credits and other financial benefits to retailers on a competitive basis with priority given to those with the greatest potential to expand access to healthy foods in underserved areas.
The bill offers few specifics on the implementation other than it would be overseen by the Georgia Department of Human Services and would partner with the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Additionally, the stores would be “strongly encouraged” to accept EBT SNAP and WIC benefits.
In order to receive any state funding or incentive package, the store would be obligated to offer healthy foods for at least three years.
The bill dos not define ‘healthy foods.’