Legislation would encourage grocery stores to locate in "food de - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Legislation would encourage grocery stores to locate in "food deserts"

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There's no such thing as a quick trip to the grocery store for many Mississippians. It's something that requires pre-planning and a drive. In many communities, a convenience store or gas station is the closest thing you'll find to a grocery store.

"It's so far away," noted Amanda Evans. "I have to drive at least 25 miles."

Evans was referring to the grocery store. She lives in Edwards, Mississippi. It's one of many parts of the state considered to be a "food desert". That term means in an urban area, folks have to go more than a mile to find fresh food. In a rural area, they have to travel at least ten miles.

"I go to Clinton or Vicksburg and I only go about once a month maybe twice a month just depending on necessities," added Evans.

Senator David Blount introduced a bill that would give tax incentives to grocery stores willing to locate in those areas. He's been critical of tax incentives for retail stores, specifically, in the past. But he said, this is different.

"Is the private market however going to provide grocery stores and access to food and pour in rural areas of the state?" asked Blount. "That is not happening. So that's a proper thing for us to look at."

The executive director of the Mississippi Roadmap to Health Equity said "healthy food financing" has been successful in other parts of the country. She thinks groceries in the low income-low access areas could create a positive domino effect.

"Once they are in neighborhoods, they will be sustainable," explained Beneta Burt. "They contribute to the economic development of those particular communities and then new businesses are attracted and other kinds of things move in. So it just contributes to the livability of communities."

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