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H.R. 1230: Food Deserts Act

The text of the bill below is as of Feb 28, 2023 (Introduced).



1st Session

H. R. 1230


February 28, 2023

(for himself, Mr. Khanna, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, Mr. Takano, Mr. Green of Texas, Ms. Norton, Mr. Doggett, Mr. Payne, Ms. Blunt Rochester, Ms. Titus, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mrs. Beatty, Mrs. Cherfilus-McCormick, Ms. Stansbury, Mr. Cuellar, Mr. DeSaulnier, Ms. Lee of California, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Moulton, Ms. Scholten, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Vargas, Ms. Ross, Mr. Tonko, Mr. Gallego, Mr. Soto, Ms. Barragán, Mr. Cleaver, Ms. Tokuda, and Mr. Carter of Louisiana) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture


To direct the Secretary of Agriculture to make grants to States to support the establishment and operation of grocery stores in underserved communities, and for other purposes.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Food Deserts Act.


Grant program to establish grocery stores in underserved communities


Establishment of grant program

The Secretary shall establish a program to provide capitalization grants to States for the purpose of establishing revolving funds to support the establishment and operation of grocery stores in underserved communities.



A State receiving funds under this Act shall administer the revolving fund of the State through an instrumentality of the State with such powers and limitations as may be required to operate such fund in accordance with the requirements of this Act.


Projects and activities eligible for assistance

Amounts in a revolving fund shall be used for the purpose of making loans—


to open a grocery store in an underserved community, except that such loan may not be used for the purpose of new construction;


to support the operations of an existing grocery store in an underserved community;


to provide access to healthy food; or


to support the operations of a program participant that is located in a community that would be an underserved community if the program participant was not located in such community.


Grocery stores eligible for assistance


Required criteria

A State receiving a capitalization grant under this Act may only make a loan from the revolving fund of the State to an entity that the State determines—


is a grocery store or will be a grocery store after opening;


emphasizes or will emphasize unprocessed, healthful foods;


provides or will provide a variety of raw fruits and vegetables;


provides or will provide staple foods;


has a plan to keep such foods in stock to the extent possible;


charge affordable at or below market values;




is demonstrably qualified to operate a grocery store; or


at the time of such application, has existing partnerships with organizations that provide technical assistance on business operations of food services; and


will match no less than 20 percent, from non-Federal funds, of the amount of such loan.


Priority criteria

A State shall prioritize an application for a loan from the revolving fund of the State from an entity that the State determines—


hires or plans to hire workers who reside within the underserved community that would be served by the entity;


provides or plans to provide classes or other educational information about a healthful diet;


sources or plans to source food from local urban farms and gardens; and


demonstrates existing supply chain relationships in the grocery industry.



An entity that desires a loan from a revolving fund of a State shall submit an application to the State at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the State may require.


Loan conditions


In general

A loan distributed from a revolving fund by a State may be used by a program participant only for the purposes specified in subsection (c).


Interest rates

A loan distributed by a State from a revolving fund—


shall be made at or below market interest rates; and


may be an interest free loan, at terms not to exceed the lesser of 30 years or the projected useful life (as determined by the State) of the project to be financed with the proceeds of the loan.


Structure of loan

A loan may be distributed from a revolving fund by a State to a program participant in—


a lump sum; or


in multiple distributions over a period of years, if the State determines multiple distributions are necessary to carry out the project.


Loan amount

A State may not provide a loan to a program participant from the revolving fund of the State in a fiscal year that exceeds 10 percent of the amount available from the fund for making distributions in that fiscal year.



Annual principal and interest payments on a loan received from a revolving fund of a State shall commence not later than 1 year after the loan is disbursed to the program participant and all loans will be fully amortized upon the expiration of the term of the loan.


Revenue for repayment

A program participant shall establish a dedicated source of revenue for repayment of a loan received from a revolving fund of a State.


Crediting revolving fund

A revolving fund of a State shall be credited with all payments of principal and interest on all loans made from the revolving fund.


Administration costs

A State shall charge a program participant an administrative fee of not more than 4 percent of the loan amount. The State shall use the fees to administer the revolving fund and conduct administration activities under this Act.


Technical assistance

The Secretary shall provide technical assistance to program participants to assist with sourcing of food, food storage, and other operational requirements.



In the case of the bankruptcy of a program participant, amounts owed on a loan from a revolving fund shall be afforded precedence over other debt.


Change in underserved status

In the case of a community that qualified as underserved during a period in which loans were made by a State pursuant to this section and no longer qualifies as underserved, recipients of loans under this section in such community—


shall not be eligible for further loans under this section; and


may not have their loan agreements altered.


Grocery store earnings

Earnings of a nonprofit organization or municipally owned program participant that are attributable to a loan received from a revolving fund of a State shall be used for reinvestment into the program participant or to support the continuity of operations of the program participant.


Capitalization grants to fund state revolving funds


Eligibility of state for capitalization grant

To be eligible for a capitalization grant, a State shall—


establish a revolving fund that complies with the requirements of this Act; and


establish a process for applications and criteria for making loans from the revolving fund, subject to the requirements in section 2(d).


Upon receipt of capitalization grant

Upon the receipt of a capitalization grant, a State shall deposit such capitalization grant into the revolving fund of the State.



For a fiscal year, the Secretary shall apportion amounts made available for capitalization grants under this section among the States eligible under subsection (a) in the ratio that—


the population of underserved communities in each State eligible under subsection (a), bears to


the population of underserved communities in all States eligible under subsection (a).


Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act $150,000,000 for fiscal year 2022.



In this Act:


Capitalization grant

The term capitalization grant means a grant made to a State under the program.


Healthful food

The term healthful food means food that reflects the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Grocery store

The term grocery store means a retail store that derives income primarily from the sale of food for home preparation and consumption.



The term program means the program described in section 2(a).


Program participant

The term program participant means an entity that has received a loan under the program.


Revolving fund

The term revolving fund means a fund established by a State for use as a depository for a capitalization grant.



The term Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.


Staple food

The term staple food has the meaning given the term in section 243(b) of the of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 6953(b)).



The term State means States of the Union, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.


Underserved community

The term underserved community has the meaning given the term in section 310B(g)(9)(A) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1932(g)(9)(A)).