We have great news to kick off 2018! Shortly before the holiday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Andy Schor, to incentivize grocery stores in underserved areas.
Despite being the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, nearly 2 million people have limited, or even no access to healthier food options. House Bill 4207—The Michigan Strategic Fund Act, more commonly referred to as the Grocery Store Bill, and now the Public Act 239 of 2017, aims to change that.
PA 239 requires that for the next five years, 5 percent of annually appropriated funds from the state’s Community Revitalization Program (CRP) go to programs aimed at increasing access to healthy food. Specifically, the funds must go toward properties that will be used primarily as a retail supermarket, grocery store, or produce market. These businesses must offer fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed USDA-inspected meat and poultry products, and dairy products for sale to the public. The sum of money allocated toward increasing healthier food options for all Michiganders by the end of that five-year period will be approximately $12-$15 million.
“A healthier Michigan is a stronger Michigan, and this bill helps promote the development of grocery stores to provide more Michiganders with access to healthier food options," Gov. Snyder said in a statement. “We have the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and it's important that we expand the accessibility of Michigan's world-class food products to all Michiganders."
The legislation expands the definition of “eligible property" for community revitalization incentives to include property utilized for a neighborhood and commercial corridor food initiative. The bill also requires at least 5 percent of community revitalization incentives be awarded by the Michigan Economic Development Commission to these food initiatives.
“Grocery stores are key to a vibrant community because people want to be close to a store to buy bread, milk and whatever they need for dinner that day," Rep. Schor said in a statement when the bill was given final approval from the Senate. “Easy access to grocery stores will help residents while making our downtowns and neighborhoods more attractive to new people and businesses."
Congratulations to the advocates in Michigan, including Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan and the American Heart Association, for this huge progress in helping all communities in the state access affordable, healthy foods!