Recommendations proposed to combat food deserts
BATON ROUGE - For some people, finding a fresh head of lettuce or an orange is not easy since parts of East Baton Rouge Parish lack grocery stores and have been labeled "food deserts."
Monday night, The East Baton Rouge Food Access Policy Commission presented five recommendations to fix the problem.
According to data collected by Together Baton Rouge, about 75,000 residents live in areas that have "unacceptably low access" to grocery stores. Living in those communities can lead to more health risks, higher costs for food, crime and little to no economic development.
"We want to reduce obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other diseases," said Edgar Cage with Together Baton Rouge. "A step in doing that is having access to having fresh, healthy food."
The EBR Food Access Policy Commission is a joint project of Together Baton Rouge and the Mayor's Healthy City Initiative, launched in February 2013.
One of their recommendations include creating and funding the "EBR Fresh Food Financing Fund," a financing initiative to attract grocery stores to increase access to food in certain areas.
Another involves working with the Capital Area Transit System to provide a transit service from low food-access areas to grocery stores.
The commission also suggested asking the state legislature to allocate funding to the Louisiana Healthy Food Retail Fund to make Baton Rouge more appealing in low food access areas.
Monday, the commission issued a survey to a group of about 100 people to gather their opinions about each suggestion.
The findings will be presented at future community meetings. The commission plans to roll out a more comprehensive plan at the end of the year.