AHA calls on state House panel to advance legislation expanding healthy food access

The American Heart Association and the Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign today urged the Michigan House Commerce and Trade Committee to advance legislation that would expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables across Michigan.

House Bill 4207, sponsored by State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lasing, would encourage grocery store development and reinvestment in underserved areas throughout the state.

“House Bill 4207 is a common-sense bill that would remove the barriers that exist for so many people in Michigan that live too far away from a corner store or grocery store that stocks fresh, healthy food,” said David Hodgkins, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “We urge the House Commerce and Trade Committee to approve this legislation as soon as possible. The longer adults and children in Michigan go without fresh fruits and vegetables, the greater their chances of developing early heart disease.”

Researchers have found that people who don’t have access to fresh food have an increased risk of developing early heart disease. Living within one mile of a store selling fresh fruits and vegetables greatly reduced or slowed the progression of calcium buildup in the heart’s arteries. The results of the research, conducted in 2016, were published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

“It’s tragic that nearly two million people in Michigan don’t have access to the foods that make up the building blocks of a healthy diet and it’s even more tragic that 300,000 of them are children,” said Ted O’Dell, manager of the Michigan Healthy Food Access Campaign. “When fresh, nutritious foods are readily available, children and adults develop better eating habits and better overall health, and that includes a decreased risk of obesity.”

HB 4207 was introduced in February. The bill was heard in committee on March 14 but no vote was taken.

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