A group of grocers, consumer advocates and researchers wants the state to help invest in supermarkets in food deserts around Tennessee. The Grocery Access Task Force says doing so could create jobs and make the state healthier.
Food deserts are places where lots of people lack easy access to affordable, healthy food. They can happen in both cities and rural areas.
David Smith of Associated Wholesale Grocers says many food deserts could sustain a store, but getting the money to start one is difficult. So Smith wants the state to pitch in, with ten million dollars in seed capital.
“I’m very conservative personally, and would not support something where you’re trying to set up a business where it makes no sense to be there. We’re paying a tremendous amount to provide healthcare and honestly to support people to eat the wrong things.”
A similar proposal a couple years ago never found much momentum in the state legislature. Smith points to a model in Pennsylvania that’s been picked up in places like New York and New Orleans. He says in Tennessee it could mean stores in a dozen food deserts around the state, creating a thousand new jobs.