Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gillibrand announces push to bring fresh food to underserved communities

WASHINGTON – To help approximately four million New Yorkers living in so-called “food desert” neighborhoods that have little or no access to fresh, nutritious foods, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today joined Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to launch the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. With food insecurity and obesity rates on the rise, Senator Gillibrand’s new legislation would invest $1 billion through loans and grants to help build approximately 2,100 new grocery stores and farmer's markets across the country, including an estimated 357 stores in New York State. The legislation would create an estimated 200,000 new jobs nationally, including an estimated 34,000 in New York State. President Obama has already dedicated $345 million in his FY2011 budget for a similar proposal.

To combat rising rates of obesity and food insecurity, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative would provide start-up grant and loan investments in some of the most marginalized rural and urban communities in order to expand access to fresh food and create sustainable, good-paying jobs. Senator Gillibrand is working on the legislation in coordination with First Lady Michelle Obama, who included the initiative as part of her “Let’s Move” agenda to combat childhood obesity.

“Obesity and diabetes rates are reaching crisis proportions in our country and it is time to take aggressive action,” said Gillibrand, who, as the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, is helping lead the fight in the Senate to combat child obesity and promote good health. “Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. By building new grocery stores in underserved areas across the state we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. I am proud to work with President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama on their efforts to combat obesity in America. We cannot back down from this fight.

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