ATLANTA – State Representatives Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia), Sandra Scott (D-Rex), Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) and Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) recently participated in the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus’ (GLBC) annual conference on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at the EnMarket Arena in Savannah. The legislators, along with Rickie Keys, served as guest speakers for the conference’s “Operation Desert Georgia: Food Desert, Health Desert and Credit Desert” panel session.
“Georgia has been the number one place to do business for many years,” said Rep. Carter. “However, we have much work to do to ensure that all Georgians have a good quality of life. This is why I continue to work with my colleagues to close the desert gaps for education, food, health care, transportation and banking. We have the data to empower our constituents. We are working together with local stakeholders to bring much needed resources to communities that have been neglected for decades. We want Georgia to be the number one state to live.”
“Addressing food deserts and food insecurity in communities with a higher Black population requires a multi-faceted approach,” said Rep. Scott. “This panel allowed us to share different pathways to ensure that every individual, regardless of their community or background, has access to fresh and healthy food. To make a lasting change in Georgia, we must focus on five pillars: agriculture impact, economic impact, education, health and workforce. We can create a more just and nourished state by advocating for policies like House Bill 321, the Healthy Food Development Act, empowering Black farmers, promoting economic equity and nutrition education and embracing food as medicine.”
The panel discussion focused on educating the community, elected officials and stakeholders on the “deserts” that affect underserved and under-resourced areas throughout Georgia. The panelists highlighted the lack of access to banking and credit institutions, pharmacies, as well as the root causes of food insecurities. They also highlighted potential funding inequities that they would like to see addressed, and these legislators discussed Georgians For Resource Equity, an organization that specializes in these issues.
“Participating in the ‘Operation Desert Georgia’ panel session was a momentous opportunity to shed light on the pressing issue of ‘deserts’ and the disparities in funding that plague underserved and under-resourced communities,” said Rep. Viola Davis. “With the added context of CVS announcing its plan to close 900 stores nationwide by the end of 2026, the urgency to address these inequities becomes even more apparent. Addressing the root causes of these challenges will give us the ability to draft legislation that offers practical and effective solutions, ensuring increased economic development in all areas, irrespective of zip codes, counties, cities or rural districts.”
“We were happy to facilitate a robust conversation amongst legislators, local elected officials, community leaders, medical professionals and attendees,” said Rep. Schofield. “The GLBC is taking steps to address credit and banking deserts and their profound impact on individuals and businesses. Historically and intentionally depriving communities of essential financial services thwarts economic stability, exacerbates income inequality, impedes social mobility and increases stress in underserved and under-resourced communities. We must remain focused and committed to corrective measures that create equity for all.”
The GLBC’s recent conference brought together a diverse cross-section of industry experts, business, faith, community leaders, elected officials and constituents from across the state. Attendees were engaged in breakout sessions, public forums and networking opportunities. The annual conference aims to exchange ideas and evidence-based solutions to problems and challenges affecting African Americans, people of color and disenfranchised Georgians.