The Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, in partnership with the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce, conducted a rapid HIA of Tennessee Senate Bill 1176, the Tennessee Food Desert Relief Act which was introduced during the 2012 legislative session. The bill would authorize the use of revenue bonds and loans to develop property into food desert relief enterprises (FDRE). The HIA focused on how the bill will affect rural and urban residents by improving access to healthful, affordable foods.
The HIA found that overall the bill has potential to improve health in Tennessee but could be amended to maximize the health benefits. The HIA recommended defining food deserts, FDREs, and healthy foods to help clarify the types of initiatives that are eligible for funding under the bill. The HIA also recommended that FDRE applications be scored according to health-promoting criteria, such as whether the proposed locations are near public transportation routes, and equitable criteria, including prioritizing areas and populations with the highest food access burdens.