Buck, Cohen Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bring Grocery Stores to Food Deserts

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Ken Buck (CO-04) and Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act to increase rural communities’ access to fresh and affordable groceries, create jobs, and stimulate local economies. This legislation would increase the rehabilitation tax credit for establishing a grocery store in a food desert, increase the work opportunity tax credit for these grocery stores hiring local residents, veterans, disadvantaged youth, and other workers with barriers to employment, and create a tax credit for selling fresh fruit and vegetables. 

“Access to fresh and affordable food is fundamental to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but tragically, over 20 million Americans currently live in a food desert,” said Rep. Buck. “In fact, many communities throughout Colorado and the fourth congressional district are food deserts. A few months ago, I learned that the only grocery store in Seibert, Colorado, had closed – leaving many residents without access to fresh food. Our bipartisan bill, the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act, offers incentives to open and maintain grocery stores in communities like Seibert to ensure a stable supply of healthy food.”

“For more than 20 million Americans living in underserved communities such as parts of my district in Memphis, living in a food desert without access to affordable fresh food and vegetables is their unhealthy reality. A lack of healthy food options can contribute to a decline in health and well-being and may contribute to diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease,” said Rep. Cohen. “The Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act addresses this problem with a comprehensive set of credits to incentivize grocery stores to establish themselves in underserved urban and rural areas, hire local residents and workers with barriers to employment, and sell affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Statements of support for the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act:

Heather Valentine, Director of Government Relations of Bread for the World: “Currently, residents of underserved communities must travel long distances for nutritious food. Bread for the World is excited to see bipartisan legislation to address food deserts and improve access to healthy food in communities across America.”

Bruce Talbott, President of the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association: “Encouraging grocery stores to establish or stay in business in underserved areas through tax incentives is good public policy. CFVGA is very supportive of incentives for grocers to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables to customers – it’s positive for Colorado produce growers and for the health of customers.”

Robert Yeakel, Director of Government Relations for the National Grocers Association: “Many Americans have to travel too far to access healthy foods and purchase their groceries. The Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act will help independent grocers expand into food deserts and provide greater, fresher food options and jobs to communities throughout the country.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food desert locator can be viewed here.