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Lawmakers advocate for better access to healthy food

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Eat more locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables

Lawmakers and regular folks strolled past more than 70 venders at the Farmers Market at the Capitol Thursday. But while goers ogled the plethora of fruits and vegetables, State Representative Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs, was there to bring attention to the lack of healthy food access in Michigan.

Pagel is sponsoring a bill he says would increase the availability of healthy food in Michigan particularly in rural and urban areas.

“It’s not a silver bullet,” he said. “But hopefully it’ll provide some kids in Michigan who don’t have really good access to some fruits and vegetables some more opportunities to partake of all the great things we grow.”

Several organizations are in favor of the legislation, including the American Heart Association and the Michigan Farmers Market Association. Amanda Shreve is the program director for the Michigan Farmers Market Association.

“We know that 1.8 million Michiganders aren’t getting the fruits and vegetables that they need or the recommended amount,” she said.  “So we know that there’s opportunity to increase access to all kinds of healthy food especially fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The bill is asking for $6.5 million to provide low interest loans and grant opportunities to farmers markets, corner stores, grocery stores and convenience stores.