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Proposed Bill Aims to Alleviate Virginia's 'Food Deserts'

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

People in the commonwealth may have easier access to healthy food, thanks to a bill being considered by the Virginia House of Delegates.

The state Senate recently passed SB 999, which calls for the creation of the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund to help build and expand grocery stores in "underserved" communities. Advocates believe this type of legislation could help put an end to “food deserts,” including places like Louisa and Wanyesboro.

Food deserts are urban areas where it is difficult for people to get fresh food at an affordable price.

In Charlottesville, Local Food Hub already helps supply fresh fruits and vegetables from area farms to stores and restaurants. Portia Boggs, the associate director of philanthropy at the nonprofit, says if the bill can help people eat food grown closer to home, then it can pay off in several ways.

“There’s a lot of research out there that talks about the importance of local and fresh food, and how it is more-nutrient dense. Locally-sourced food is better for the environment,” Boggs said. “Getting food grown close to home is better for the local economy.”

The bill, if passed, would provide $5 million to build or improve stores and "small food retail projects."