Food desert bill promises to bring healthier food, jobs to the area

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri lawmaker says his proposal would bring new jobs and healthier foods to communities that need both.  State Rep. Randy Dunn (D – Kansas City) has introduced a bill that would give up to $2.5 million in tax credits to any full scale grocery store built in a food desert – a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to healthy food options.                    

Some of the residents in Rep. Dunn’s district have to travel by foot or bus to reach the nearest grocery store.

"For many people who decide to stay in those communities, they often may have an hour commute to get to a grocery store if they don't have access to a car.  That's one of the things we're hoping to cure with this bill,” Rep. Dunn said. “It would be transformative for this neighborhood to have access to healthy food options that currently aren't here. "

Kansas City just celebrated the grand opening of an ALDI at 39th & Prospect in early February.

“It's great that (ALDI) went in there but we need more,” said Rep. Dunn, who talked to us at the food desert at 27th and Troost – a site that has previously been considered for a possible grocery store. "The new ALDI is a few miles away from here and that therein lies one of the issues is, the options that are in the community, they tend to be few and far between.”

Besides encouraging the construction of new grocery stores with healthier food options, Rep. Dunn says the food desert bill would also add new jobs.

“This bill is absolutely important to the continued growth of this community, to the continued vitality of the community for additional economic development and opportunities for employment,” said Dunn.

The food desert bill is currently in committee in the Missouri State House, but Rep. Dunn says it already has support from Democrats and Republicans.

“This really goes beyond just Kansas City.  This is something that would be applicable not only to the urban areas but rural areas in this state as well,” Dunn said.

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