INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health and community leaders say the closures of Double 8 Foods in July made a growing food desert problem even worse.
The USDA says there are 500 food deserts across the state, with 125 of them in Marion County.
The USDA also says 1.1 million Hoosiers get their food from soup kitchens or food pantries. They say the good news is that help is available, but a bill making its way through Congress may help even more.
The “Food Deserts Act” is sponsored by Rep. Andre Carson.
“Our city was named the worst in the nation for food deserts. Too many young people, too many adults are going hungry,” said Rep. Carson.
He announced the legislation at the Edna Martin Christian Center, where Garden on the Go was holding one of its farmers markets.
“It helps out a whole lot, because that way, I don’t have to try to get away to the store and all,” said Ida Carter, who was shopping at the market.
Carter said Garden on the Go is the only place in her east side neighborhood where she can get fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I don’t have transportation, so I have to depend on my kids coming to take me,” said Carter.
Garden on the Go is partnered with IU Health. They make three stops a day, five days a week. They go to where access to food has dried up.
“We make it as convenient as possible by just setting up, basically, a farmers market-style market right inside public housing facilities, at schools (and) community centers,” said Kyle Edgell, the director of Garden on the Go.
Rep. Carson says his bill will help improve access to quality foods by creating a loan program to keep farmers markets, and even local, independent grocery stores, like Double 8 Foods, from going under.
“All they have to do in return is provide fresh, unprocessed food and sample items in their selections at below-market rate prices,” said Rep. Carson.
Rep. Carson says he lacks bipartisan support right now, but says he is speaking with those in the Indiana delegation.
If it does become law, stores like Kroger and Marsh wouldn’t qualify for it.