Testimony in Support of HB 2438 and HB 2730 – Tax Credits for Farms and Grocery Stores in Food Deserts

Date: March 27, 2024
To: Representative Brad Hudson, Chairman & Committee Members House Economic Development Committee
From: Christine Woody, Food Security Policy Manager, Empower Missouri
Re: Our support for HB 2438 and HB 2730

Founded in 1901, Empower Missouri advocates for the well-being of Missourians through civic leadership, education, and research. As part of our work, we organize a statewide coalition called the Food Security Coalition. This coalition is made up of individuals and organizations who are working to ensure every Missourian has access to healthy and nutritious food and that Missouri has a strong safety net for those who need it. 

As you may know, 12% of Missourians struggle with food insecurity. One problem that exacerbates is the existence of over 100 food deserts across the state, affecting every region from St. Louis to Kansas to rural communities in every corner of the state. Food deserts are particularly frequent all along our southern state border. When Missouri families live in a food desert, they often struggle with access to healthy, nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Families often end up eating more processed foods that can be purchased at gas stations or convenience stores such as Family Dollar. This type of diet can lead to serious medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, providing incentives for increasing access to fresh nutritious food for folks who live in a food desert will not only reduce hunger across the state, but will reduce state-funded medical costs as well. 

Missouri  already offers a wide variety of tax credits to businesses, including the Business Facility Headquarters Tax Credit, the Enhanced Enterprise Zone, the Wine & Grape Tax Credit, the Rebuilding Communities program, and the Quality Jobs Programs. Our legislature has consistently found that tax credits are a useful 

incentive to businesses across the state, creating jobs, attracting new residents, and building long-term tax revenue for the state. We believe that HB 2438 is a quality candidate to join these other tax credit programs to produce all of these same benefits for the state while also decreasing food insecurity and improving health outcomes for low-income families. We respectfully ask this committee to vote “Do Pass” on HB 2438 and HB 2730.

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