New measure aims to help rural Oklahomans gain access to healthy food

Apr 24, 2017

Geary, Oklahoma, Family Dollar manager Jacquie Hogue running the register in her store.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature took a big step last week toward battling health problems in rural parts of the state.

As StateImpact reports, rural Oklahomans have long been fighting a losing battle with diabetes, and obesity. And heart disease is the state’s number one killer.

A big part of the problem has been a lack of healthy food options for small town residents. These areas are called “food deserts,” defined as low-income areas that are more than 10 miles from the nearest supermarket.

A new measure has now passed the Legislature that would establish a fund called the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The new initiative will offer loans and grants for small towns to construct grocery stores, expand local farmers’ markets, and help store owners buy refrigerators for fresh produce.

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature, to become law.