LANSING, Mich., December 16, 2021 — On Tuesday, state Rep. Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) introduced House Bill 5656 to extend the successful initiative that directs existing revitalization dollars that brings grocery stores to downtowns and commercial corridors in urban areas. The program was initially established through legislation in 2017, but it is set to sunset in 2022. The bill was introduced with bipartisan support.
“The 2021 County Health Rankings were announced yesterday, and Kalamazoo County was ranked 27 out of 83 counties,” said Rogers. “While we are somewhat in the middle, there is certainly more we can do to improve the social determinants of health. One of the indicators contributing to health outcomes is access to healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. Increasing access to these types of foods, including in smaller ‘corner stores,’ is important to the communities that I represent.”
House Bill 5656 would continue this program through 2026 and would direct at least 5 percent of already appropriated community revitalization dollars within the Michigan Strategic Fund toward the development of grocery stores within Michigan urban areas. Should grocery store projects not become available, the dollars would revert to other community revitalization programs.
“The lack of access to grocery stores and healthy foods in certain communities throughout Michigan is well known,” Rogers said. “In fact, my summer interns in the 60th District Service Office researched and brought this issue to me after finding food deserts in Kalamazoo. It would be detrimental to let this program lapse, especially after its proven success in communities like Lansing and Flint.”