Indiana food deserts will be addressed during a legislative summer session

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With the threat of dozens of Marsh stores closing, state legislators are trying to get ahead of food deserts in their communities.

Tackling the issue of not having access to grocery stores has been a topic that's failed in previous legislative sessions.

The legislative session has ended, but the work will continue this summer. State Representative Vanessa Summers succeeded in getting the legislative council to take up the issue of food deserts during a summer study.

"With the onset of Marsh and then realizing that oh we probably do have an issue not necessarily just in the urban areas that they also have an issue in the rural areas," Rep. Summers said.

Representative Summers says that's why the council approved taking this issue into a summer session. This is a battle Representative Robin Shackleford has been fighting since Double 8 foods closed two years ago. Finally, after several laws to address food deserts failed, it's now a front burner conversation.

"They've got to figure out how do they get grocery stores in the neighborhood. Do you give tax credits to the people coming in? You know how do you move a grocery store and get a grocery store to say I'm coming into this neighborhood," Rep. Summers said.

While that committee gets to work, community members with the Indiana Healthy Food Access Coalition want to fight food deserts together.

"In our effort we need more stakeholders, more community members that are affected by this and other ways that healthy food access is an issue or accessing healthy food is a challenge," said coalition member Tony Gillespie.

And while this gets worked out on the state level, the coalition wants the community to make some noise in a positive direction.

"We need your voice, we need your stories, we need your support to educate your legislature your elected official on how important this is and why they should support it when it comes back up in the legislature," Gillespie said.