Access to food is a problem in Indiana

Access to healthy food is a right, not a privilege. Unfortunately, in our state this right is denied to thousands of Hoosiers simply because of where they live. There are more than 500 neighborhoods in Indiana that are classified as food deserts, or areas in which fresh, healthy foods are scarce. The health costs of low food access are dire. Research tells us that individuals who lack access to healthy food have increased likelihood of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

There are very real economic costs as well. Grocery stores can be the cornerstones of the communities they serve; they boost the local economy and create jobs, and provide markets for local farmers. Expanding healthy food access has the potential to lower health care costs in the long run, and contribute to a healthier, more productive workforce.

In a state like Indiana, whose food access landscape is already bleak, the recent announcement by Marsh Supermarkets of their impending bankruptcy and store closures, means that the number of Hoosiers who lack access to healthy, affordable food continues to grow. During the 2017 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly missed an opportunity to address this issue through an innovative, comprehensive healthy food financing model. They failed to pass a bill that would have provided funding for businesses, not-for-profits, and local food banks in underserved communities that would increase access to healthy food.

This model would bring a triple benefit to communities: revitalized economy, job creation, and better health. This coalition and its partners in the business, healthcare, and community service sectors plan to continue fighting for passage of this important legislation. With Marsh and other f ood retailers closing all over the state, it is more important than ever for our state lawmakers to act on behalf of the communities they serve and ensure that ALL Hoosiers have access to healthy, affordable food. Contact your state senator and representative and let them know that you support healthy food financing in Indiana. <br>