Local food has important implications for nutrition and health, as discussed in the FASH section of Goals. Fruits and vegetables picked and eaten or preserved at their peak have the greatest nutritional value.1 But residents of many urban and rural communities don’t have easy access to fresh or culturally-relevant produce because of a lack of nearby retail food stores, or a lack of public transportation to get to stores.
The Massachusetts Food Trust was established by the legislature in 2014 to provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low- and moderate-income communities. This could include supermarkets, corner stores, cooperative food enterprises, farmers markets, mobile markets, community kitchens, food truck commissaries, indoor and outdoor greenhouses, and food distribution hubs. To date, the Trust has not received funding.
Building alliances among health advocates, agencies, insurers, and regulators will increase access to fresh produce. Increased retail accessibility can be accomplished through public support of farmers markets, which provide direct distribution mechanisms for healthy, local food, particularly in areas poorly served by traditional food retailers.