Legislators, community groups working to find ways to transport meals to food deserts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Hundreds of Hoosiers in the state are hungry and many have no idea where their next meal will come from. It is a problem that state legislators have been talking about for months.

“Unfortunately, it is a problem that has been around an awfully long time,” said Gleaners Food Bank CEO John Elliott.

Elliot has been working on the issue with state legislators and other community groups for months. The groups met again this week to talk about the issue and what they can do to fix it.

“What we are talking about today is the food desert issue in both the served and underserved areas,” said State Senator John Ruckelshaus of District 30.

Ruckelshaus tells us the hunger issue in central Indiana affects both urban and rural areas.

“In an urban area, we all know what happened when Marsh pulled out and we all know what is going on with a consolidation of grocery stores coming on the near horizon. Those areas are in the core urban areas and tend to center themselves in the areas of poverty,” said Senator Ruckelshaus.

Leading to food deserts or areas where there is limited access to nutritious food.

“Where they do not have many choices if at all for food and they have to go miles to get there. There are transportation issues as well,” said Senator Ruckelshaus.

Tackling the issue of not having access to grocery stores has been a topic that has failed in previous legislative sessions. So this time, Elliott says legislators and community groups need to focus on finding a way to bring food into these neighborhoods.

“We cannot rely on for-profit retailers to build a store on every other street corner. They will all fail because there will be too many stores and then we are in a worse situation,” said Elliott.

“We have enough food in the system, it is a distribution issue. That is one of the reason why we are bringing not only the private sector in but the not for profit sector too because they are very good with the distribution system,” said Senator Ruckelshaus.

This important conversation that affects all of the communities around central Indiana will continue between legislators and community groups through the next session.