Tomorrow is the deadline for bills passed in one Mississippi legislative chamber to be approved by relevant commmittees of the other chamber if the legislation is to remain alive. Let’s hope House Bill 798, authored by pragmatic Hattiesburg legislator Toby Barker, makes it through the Senate’s Public Health and Welfare committee. Mississippi needs it.
A modest piece of legislation, the Healthy Foods Retail Act tries to chip away at the serious problem of “food deserts” – places where fresh produce is hard if not impossible to access, typically characterized by low, and low-income, populations. HB 798 authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to make small grants to small retail grocery operations carrying fresh produce to locate in food deserts.
Reducing the number of Mississippi’s food deserts – and we have plenty of them, unfortunately – won’t solve Mississippi’s many health problems. But it’s something, and every little bit helps.