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A portion of the funds would also go to local food banks in need to specialized equipment needed to support enhanced access to fresh foods.

Thousands of convenience stores, within walking distance of many underserved urban and rural residents, sell some kind of food. The problem is that not many offer healthy food options, according to Katherine Knoll, Regional VP of the Michigan American Heart Association

"In Detroit alone, more than 85 independently-owned stores, carry fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables," says Martin Manna, the executive director of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, which represents many inner city retail operations.

"These statistics alone, tell us that we have to examine existing networks more carefully. In some cases, increased access (more stores) may be required," says Ted Odell, former state representative and Michigan Healthy Food financing campaign manager.

"In other cases, we need to identify and address the market barriers that make it cost prohibitive for smaller independent stores to carry more fresh foods," he states.

"Obviously, existing networks provide the most cost effective means to address access issues, so we need to leverage them to their fullest potential," Odell adds.

The additional funding support is particularly welcome among smaller independent retailers, who typically have not been the beneficiaries of such incentives.

"Recently, the state's largest retailers, like Meijer and Whole Foods, received significant public subsidies to support urban market operations," Manna , who believes that improved fresh foods access could be better achieved through targeted funding of existing independent chains more likely to improve fresh foods offerings if comparable public support was available.

The prospect of additional funding seems welcome news to many.

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