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2018-21

Expanding Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Via Healthy Food Financing Initiatives

REPRESENTATIVE LOUIS RUIZ (KS), CHAIR HEALTHCARE TASK FORCE

WHEREAS, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) recognizes that underserved and low-income communities in distressed urban, suburban, and rural geographic areas often have limited access to supermarkets or large grocery stores; and,

WHEREAS individuals and families living in food deserts often rely on corner stores for their food— stores that do not typically carry the nutritious food they need; and,

WHEREAS, 25.8 percent of Latino(a) children ages 2 to 19 are obese compared to 22 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, 14.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites, and 11 percent of non-Hispanic Asians; and,

WHEREAS, overweight children and adults are at greater risk for numerous adverse health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers, asthma, low self-esteem, depression, and other debilitating diseases; and,

WHEREAS, obesity-related health conditions have serious economic costs and the annual health care costs from obesity are at least 190 billion dollars -- or 21 percent of total health care spending—and are expected to rise substantially; and,

WHEREAS, roughly 40 percent of these costs are paid through Medicare and Medicaid, which means that taxpayers foot much of the bill, Medicare and Medicaid spending would be reduced by 8.5 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, in the absence of obesity-related spending; and,

WHEREAS, overweight children and adults are at greater risk for numerous adverse health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers, asthma, low self-esteem, depression, and other debilitating diseases; and,

WHEREAS, Latino families are more likely to live in areas where access to healthy, affordable food is limited or nonexistent; and,

WHEREAS, counties with large Latino(a) populations have a greater proportion of people identified as having low access to grocery stores (29%) compared to other counties (21%); and,

WHEREAS, 17 percent of low income people and 9 percent of children in Latino(a) counties have low access to grocery stores compared to 6 percent of low income people and 5 percent of children in other counties; and,

WHEREAS, research shows that larger chain supermarkets tend to carry more healthy food items such as produce at lower prices, whereas smaller convenience stores tend to carry less fresh produce and more calorie-rich and nutrient poor snack foods, therefore convenience stores in a neighborhood typically do not compensate for the lack of supermarket offerings of beneficial food; and,

WHEREAS, better access to chain supermarkets has been shown to be associated with a lower adolescent Body Mass Index (BMI) and frequency of obesity, whereas greater access to convenience stores has been shown to be associated with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and frequency of obesity; and,

WHEREAS, developing grocery stores stimulates economic activity by increasing jobs and employment in the community where the grocery store is located and it can also increase the levels and rates of appreciation of home prices near the new store and the market for state-grown produce and other foods; and,

WHEREAS, federal, state, and city governments are enacting legislation and policies to attract healthy food retail and improve the quality of available food in underserved and low-income communities; and,
WHEREAS, healthy food financing initiatives attract investment in underserved communities by providing critical loan and grant financing; and,

WHEREAS, these resources help healthy food retailers overcome barriers to entry into underserved and low-income communities, and support renovation and expansion of existing stores; and,

WHEREAS, these programs improve community health and revitalize neighborhoods by creating jobs and serving as anchors to other commercial development, increasing retail activity, increasing employment rates, and raising property values in surrounding neighborhoods.

THEHEFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) recognizes the importance of access to supermarkets and grocery stores and the need to eliminate food deserts in our communities; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NHCSL urges the development and implementation of state and community-based programs to support healthy food financing initiatives, in order to bring healthy food retailers to underserved communities across America; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and other federal and state government officials as appropriate.

THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THIS RESOLUTION AT ITS SUMMER MEETING IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA ON AUGUST 18, 2018.

1 Childhood Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC, (2018), https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html (last visited Jul 18, 2018).
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007. Available at: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/obesity/fact_adolescents.html.
3 Cawley J, et al. 2012. “The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach.” Journal of Health Economics 31: 219-230.
4 Wang CY, et al. 2011. “Health and Economic Burden of the Projected Obesity Trends in the USA and the UK.” Lancet 378: 815-825.
5 Trogdon JG, Finkelstein EA, Feagan W, Cohen JW. “State- and payer-specific estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity.” Obesity 2012, vol. 20, pp. 214–220.
6 Id. at 828.
7 National Council of La Raza calculation using USDA, “Food Environment Atlas,”. “Low access to grocery stores” is defined as the number of people in a county living more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store if in an urban area, or more than 10 miles from a supermarket in a rural area. “Supermarket or large grocery store” is defined as a food store selling all major categories of food and having annual sales of at least $2 million. “Hispanic counties” are defined as counties where 70% or more of the population is of Hispanic origin based on the 2010 census.
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 JN Bodor et al., “Disparities in food access: Does aggregate availability of key foods from other stores offset the relative lack of supermarkets in African-American neighborhoods?,” Prev. Med. 51, no. 1 (2010), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885449/
11 Lisa M. Powell et al., “Associations Between Access to Food Stores and Adolescent Body Mass Index,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 33, no. 4, supplement 1 (October 2007): S301-S307.
12 Bell, J., Mora, G. et al. “Access to Healthy Food and Why it Matters: A Review of the Research.” Policy Link and the Food Trust, 2013, at 16.
13 “Healthy Food Retail Financing at Work: Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.” 2011. The Reinvestment Fund, at 12. Available at: http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/resources/Healthy%20Food%20Retail%20Financing%20102411.pdf; “Reinvestment Brief: The Economic Impacts of Supermarkets on their Surrounding Communities, at 4-6, supra, note 4.
14 Reinvestment Brief, at 2-4.