A rare Sunday morning post from me. Rest assured, I have a purpose.Most people who read this blog are blessed with an abundance of choice when it comes to food. (I’ve already disclosed that I live in abundance.) We shop in grocery stores with bins and boxes and aisles of choice. We spend 10 minutes debating which brand of coffee or tuna or cereal to buy before moving an aisle over to begin the process of choosing again. We complain that grocery shopping is too time-consuming, but when you think about it, isn’t that a wonderful problem to have? ::pauses to thank the Universe:: A recent Gallup survey showed that about 20% of Americans are “food insecure”, meaning they don’t have access to food or the money to pay for it. Their communities, whether rural or urban, have no real grocery stores (not profitable, according to the grocers), and those that do operate likely don’t have much to choose from, especially healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Getting to a more bountiful store requires bus fare they frequently don’t have. For the elderly, mobility is also a problem. And so they shop for “groceries” at the convenience store on the corner where anything remotely nourishing is in short supply and what’s there is grossly overpriced.
My congressman, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-7) introduced legislation in April of this year intended to offer fresh carrots to grocers as incentive to open stores in areas that don’t have them. H.R.1542, currently titled The Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act is summarized below (source: Thomas.gov):
Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) increase the rate of the rehabilitation tax credit for a supermarket building placed in service after December 31, 2011, and before January 1, 2014, in an underserved area (i.e., any enterprise community or empowerment zone and any renewal community); (2) increase by $1,000 the the limit on wages eligible for the work opportunity tax credit for employees of a supermarket located in an underserved area; and (3) allow a business-related tax credit for 15% of the gross receipts from the retail sale of locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables in a supermarket in an underserved area.
From what I can tell, it was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee and is probably lost in the big pout fest in which our legislators are currently ensnared. (Don’t even get me started on that!)
I like this legislation and would like to see it actually go somewhere. If you read the info and agree, please consider contacting your representatives and telling them it’s time to dust this thing off and get it passed.
Meanwhile, we can all take a moment or two to be grateful for the choices we have, and maybe consider donating $$$ or food to the local food bank. (In Memphis, MIFA is an excellent choice, or the Dyersburg, TN Salvation Army chapter could use some help. Someone stole 5 cases of meat from them last week, which would have provided over 500 meals.)
This post is part of Blog Action Day 2011. The topic this year is food, selected because today coincides with World Food Day, a U.N.-sponsored initiative to raise awareness of hunger around the world.