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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Grocery stores and food banks could get access to more state money under a bill headed for the Senate floor next week.

It’s legislators’ latest idea for addressing food deserts — neighborhoods where residents don’t have any nearby  stores selling healthy, fresh food.

Indianapolis Republican Jim Merritt’s bill would set up a grant fund for retailers or nonprofits who want to open new grocery stores or rehab old ones. But Merritt says he hopes having money available would encourage grocers, food banks and farmers’ markets to brainstorm new ways to get fruits and vegetables into underserved areas.

Danielle Patterson with the American Heart Association says food deserts are a problem in every corner of the state, from urban to suburban to rural areas.

Legislators wouldn’t put any money in the fund till next year, when they write the new state budget. But Merritt says getting the fund started would allow the state to accept donations and pursue federal grants.

A Senate committee approved the bill unanimously.


(Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg/Washington Post via Getty Images)