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In 2012 the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, the National Grocers Association, and The Food Trust convened the Mississippi Grocery Access Task Force, comprising local community, economic, and public health leaders. The group addressed how residents in underserved communities can better access healthy food and generated policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail across the state.

On the heels of the work of the Grocery Access Task Force, the Mississippi House of Representatives introduced MS HB 798, the Healthy Food Retail Act, to create a grant and loan program to increase access to fresh and healthy food in underserved communities. The act passed in the House by a wide margin (114-4) and was approved by the Senate (52-0). Although the legislature adjourned before the bill was completed, there was incredible bipartisan support, signifying a growing interest and commitment to economic development in communities underserved by grocery stores and other healthy food retail, along with the creation of expanded opportunities for American farmers.

 

Mid South Healthy Food Initiative 
 
Administered by Hope Enterprise Corporation in partnership with The Food Trust, the Mid South Healthy Food Financing Initiative is a regional healthy food financing program that offers offers flexible financing for new store development and renovations, as well as training with retailers to promote healthier choices projects across three states in the Mid South region. The initiative started in New Orleans but has grown to support grocery projects in urban areas across Mississippi, Louisiana and the greater Memphis area. The program was developed through the support of a $3 million initial seed from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which was leveraged further by other funding including the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative. For more information about the program, visit the program website here.

 

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