New $200 Million Effort Aims To Address ‘Food Deserts’ in California
On Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama is expected to announce a $200 million initiative that aims to lure grocery stores into areas of California that have been deemed "food deserts," the Los Angeles Times reports.
About 4.4 million Californians live in areas with limited or no access to healthful food options, according to an analysis by the not-for-profit group Social Compact.
The initiative comes even as a recent study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that grocery store availability does not necessarily mean that consumers make more healthful choices.
Details of the Initiative
The initiative -- called the California FreshWorks Fund -- is the result of a joint effort by the California Endowment and a team of grocery industry groups, Wall Street banks and health care organizations.
Organizers say the goal is to provide financing at or below market rates to help grocers establish stores in underserved areas, giving residents more healthful, affordable food options. The initiative alsoÂ aims to help combat childhood obesity, according to the Times.
Large and small grocery stores will be eligible to receive loans, and projects could include:
- Expanding existing retail space;
- Installing new equipmentÂ such asÂ refrigerated displays; and
- Developing new distribution models, like mobile produce trucks, to bring healthful foods into underserved neighborhoods (Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times, 7/20).