Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) plans to sponsor legislation in the 2020 legislative session to help increase access to fresh food and reduce food deserts in Tennessee.
Gardenhire says he wants to incentivize grocery stores to locate in inner-city areas that are considered food deserts, where access to affordable, healthy food is often limited because grocery stores are too far away.
“When 21% of Tennesseans don’t have access to affordable healthy food, it’s no wonder Tennessee ranks among the bottom states for obesity,” Gardenhire says. “That’s why I intend to introduce legislation this year that will help increase access to healthy foods in inner city food deserts and also help educate citizens on healthy diets and food preparation.”
The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations reports 21% of the state’s population lives in areas considered food deserts – 15% in urban food deserts and 6% in rural food deserts.
Gardenhire says he hopes to utilize the Tennessee Department of Workforce Development to provide incentives to train community members to work in nearby food stores.
He also says he wants to include the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help provide economic incentives for grocery stores to relocate to inner cities.
“Combating this problem will be an ongoing effort for years to come,” Gardenhire says.
“I look forward to working with communities and state leaders to find solutions.”