Grocery fund would improve food access

Published 8:56 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

To the editor:

As a heart attack survivor, preventing heart-related health problems is personal. The Virginia Grocery Investment Fund is one way to do exactly that.

The fund will bring healthy food options within reach in both rural and urban areas and reduce the occurrence of diet-related diseases like diabetes and obesity and the health problems associated with them.

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This problem is especially important among children who don’t have access to healthy food options at home.

We all know that grocery stores serve as community anchors. They employ local residents and improve access to fresh, healthy food. For nearly two million Virginia residents, some of them right here in Suffolk, accessing a grocery store requires traveling an excessive distance.

The Grocery Investment Fund would create a public/private partnership to attract new grocery stores to our underserved areas. The fund provides incentives for companies to move into these areas.

It also will create a new market for local growers and farmers, create jobs in areas where employment is scarce and provide healthy food choices. Most important, the fund is vital in the battle against heart-related problems in low income and rural areas. The fund is a win-win-win for Suffolk and for Virginia.

The Virginia General Assembly will consider this opportunity during the current legislative session. In fact, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has already included the fund in his budget.

We need to let our delegates and state senators know that they must approve the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund.

Shane Mandel