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Lawmaker Wants To Fight Food Deserts With Loans

Carl Clifford via Flickr

Clearing up food deserts has been a perennial issue for some in the Florida Democratic caucus.  Now two GOP lawmakers are throwing their weight behind the problem. 

In recent sessions lawmakers have attempted to bring fresh foods to low income neighborhoods through business tax incentives, but the plan gained little traction.  Now Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona) is proposing a loan program to establish or renovate independent grocers in food deserts.

“This is looking to serve and help improve areas that are underserved when it comes to access,” Santiago says.  “And I think it has two elements to it.  Not only does it have an economic development element to it where it helps small businesses, it also has a health element.”

Santiago says his plan needs $5 million to get up and running but he expects it to rely on federal grants and private partnerships moving forward.  In addition to his proposal, lawmakers are pushing a plan to help people use food assistance cards at farmers markets.