Together with the American Heart Association, I applaud the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture for recognizing the issue of reliable accessibility to healthy foods for the 2.5 million Floridians who live in food deserts by unanimously passing the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, HB 153 and SB 760.
Forty-two percent of residents in Sarasota and Manatee counties live in areas with little to no access to healthy foods. These people rely on corner stores where it is difficult or impossible to get fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, seafood, lean meats and other foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.
The legislation seeks a minimum of a $5 million non-recurring appropriation from the state to create public-private partnerships that would provide the capital needed to renovate and expand existing stores, and lower the barriers for new stores to be created.
Florida ranks 10th in the nation for adult obesity, spending over $8 billion each year treating obesity-related diseases. Providing Floridians with greater access to nutritious, affordable food will help alleviate these public health concerns.
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We encourage you to ask your lawmakers to support the Healthy Food Financing Initiative this legislative session to ensure a healthier future that our friends, families and neighbors deserve.
Alfred Asante-Korang, MD, American Heart Association Tampa Bay Metro Board Member St. Petersburg