Lawmakers, local workers push effort to help Virginia’s ‘food deserts’

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Richmond, Va. (WRIC) — Almost 100 people met with Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), along with a few state and city leaders, on Monday to discuss food.

Topics included how to gain better access to food and how to provide education and healthy meals to children.

The main concerns raised were how to find the money to invest in affordable food and how to entice stores to move into “food desert” areas.

“Over one million Virginians live in food deserts,” said Sen. Warner. “Sixty thousand live right here in the city of Richmond.”

In urban centers like Richmond, being a food desert means that fresh fruit and vegetables are more than a mile away.

Senator Warner and Congressman Donald McEachin are working on the Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act. If passed, the act would offer tax credits for businesses to open in areas like the East End.

Warner also wants to leverage other institutions to participate.

“Banks, hospitals, and others who have a requirement to invest in communities to think about elevating investment in healthy food,” said Warner.

Area food truck owners are working right now to provide local products directly to the people. 

“So our need is not only as a food truck to serve healthy food to the suburban communities but also bring them to the urban communities,” said RVA Street Foodies owner Dr. Malcom Andress III.

“In order to be able to subsidize this work in the urban communities we are in need of what we call anchor contracts with our medical communities and our university community.”

Andress told 8News he hopes to create stronger relationships with farmers markets to directly take their products and sell them in underserved areas throughout Richmond.

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