Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen Introduces Bill to Reduce Food Deserts and Ensure the Availability of Fresh, Healthy Foods

May 3, 2017
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) yesterday introduced H.R. 2289, the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act, which would help reduce the prevalence of “food deserts” by providing tax incentives for the establishment of supermarkets in empowerment zones and formerly designated renewal communities to help ensure that healthy, fresh foods are available.

“Too many Americans live in food deserts without access to fresh, healthy foods,” said Congressman Cohen. “Many of these families live in low-income communities where they face transportation challenges and rely on corner convenience stores that often stock processed products rather than fresh meat and produce. My legislation addresses that challenge directly, because we should do all that we can to keep children and families healthy.”

In addition to incentivizing the establishment of supermarkets, the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas would increase the work employment tax credit for supermarkets that hire disadvantaged youth, community residents, veterans and ex-felons and provide a tax credit for supermarkets that purchase their fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 in 6 Americans live in low income communities more than half a mile from the nearest large grocery store, and many studies have shown that lack of access to the foods needed to maintain a healthy diet is a challenge that is particularly prevalent in low-income urban and rural communities. These areas are often referred to as “food deserts.”  Residents of these communities are often limited to purchasing foods that are less healthy, which can contribute to the decline in health and well-being as well as may contribute to diet-related illnesses. The USDA map of these food deserts is available here.