State Reps. Seneca Scott and Jabar Shumate will conduct an interim study this fall to determine how best to incentivize the rural and urban grocers that offer healthy, affordable, locally-grown produce and products.
“Oklahoma ranks poorly when it comes to healthy eating,” Scott, D-Tulsa, said. “Though I don’t believe lawmakers can force people to become healthy overnight, I think we can make it easier for them, while helping to support our local farmers and producers.”
Incentivizing healthy grocers helps the economy, lowers health care costs and, most importantly, means Oklahomans won’t have to choose between convenience and health, Scott said.
“Providing healthy food options is solid policy,” Scott said. “The only question, which is what we will be looking into, is how to encourage those options in the state.”
Included in the discussion will be the Oklahoma Grocers Association, Oklahoma Food Policy Council, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the Oklahoma Dietetic Association, the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and any other organization that would like to take part, Scott said.
The Oklahoma Healthy Corner Stores Initiative is the proposed title of the legislation Scott hopes to carry in the next legislative session. Reports have shown Oklahomans rank in 50th in the nation in nutrition and are the most likely of all Americans to suffer heart disease.
“One of the primary reasons for this is that in too many areas of the state we lack access to affordable, high quality, fresh foods,” Scott said. “The Oklahoma Legislature needs to help these working families and at the same time help local growers and small businesses, making it a win-win for all Oklahomans.”