Lawmakers want to turn abandoned buildings into grocery stores

Posted at 7:44 AM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 07:45:16-04

 Planning a trip to the grocery store for Ronald and Chelsea Montgomery is like planning for date night.

"We personally have to get a baby sitter," Chelsea Montgomery said. "We have to plan it out. Get a baby sitter. Go grab groceries and then come back."

They say with 6 kids doing anything is difficult but the fact that the nearest grocery store to their home in Lansing's Reo Town is miles away makes things harder.

"It's just a cycle. It's a whole plan that you make out and do it," Ronald Montgomery said.

In a 3 mile radius the Montgomery's have several gas stations to pick from.

"I go to the gas station like 6 times a day," Montgomery said. "Grocery store probably once a month"

But the closest grocery store is further away.

"If all you have is a random store where you can get a few apples and then a bunch of pastries and other fast food type items, that's not a healthy option," said Representative Andy Schor.

He's introducing a bill that would give families like the montgomery's access to a grocery store that isn't miles away.

And he says construction wouldn't need to take years.

"We don't have to have a new building. It could be a revitalization of an existing building," Rep. Schor said.

He wants to turn vacant and abandoned buildings into grocery stores. In neighborhoods like downtown Lansing, Reo town and rural communities.

"You do have areas where there is a lack of grocery," said Rep. Schor. "There's a lack of available produce."

Urban food initiatives would be properties that would be used mainly as a retail grocery store, produce market, that will offer "unprocessed USA-inspected meat and poultry products or meat products that carry the USA organic seal" including fresh fruit and vegetables.

These areas are known as food deserts because there aren't any grocery stores with fruit and vegetables within 5 miles.

"If it were closer, one of us could save the money of buying a babysitter," Ronald Montgomery said.

And use that money for a real date night.