WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDVR) — Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) is helping to champion a new piece of legislation aimed at eliminating food deserts in Colorado and the rest of the country.
He tells FOX31 he was inspired to tackle this issued after “some local news that we had seen.”
Back in May, FOX31 profiled the small town of Seibert and its struggle after their only grocery store decided it needed to close.
“We literally went down there to get some milk to make breakfast and there was a sign on the door and we just kind of stood there dumbfounded,” Seibert resident Civvy Ornellas told FOX31 during the original interview.
With a population of about 200 people, Seibert is situated along I-70 about halfway between Limon and Burlington. Residents say some of the older people living in town are unable to travel beyond its borders for groceries.
“Because a lot of them don’t travel very far away from home, and to get into Burlington is 30-some miles. Going to Limon is 40-some,” resident Loyd Hoskins said.
Buck says he believes people in rural areas should not be forced to travel so far for access to fresh foods.
“To me, it’s so important that as a healthy country, and especially a healthy sate, and we are a healthy state in Colorado, that we get away from relying on fast food. It’s not wrong to have fast food on occasion. But it’s so important to make sure that a family has fresh vegetables, fresh meat and other fresh produce,” Buck said.
His new piece of legislation defines a food desert as a rural place 20 miles or more away from a grocery store and an urban setting that does not have a grocery store within one mile.
“What it does is give tax incentives to businesses that locate in a food desert area,” he said.
Buck believes those tax incentives will be enough to help businesses operating in food deserts to turn a profit while also increasing the availability of fresh foods for people who live there.
He says so far the idea has been well-received by his colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle and he expects the bi-partisan bill to pass without controversy.
“In a year, I’m hoping that we have the legislation passed,” Buck said. “In two years, I think you’re looking at the possibility of these grocery stores locating in rural America.”