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House approves $1 million for "food desert" help

Friday - 2/21/2014, 3:41pm  ET

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A bill to make more fruits and vegetables available in "food deserts" is headed to the Senate after approval from the House of Delegates.

The bill would offer $1 million yearly to small businesses that agreed to sell Maryland-grown produce in areas lacking grocery stores. The House approved it 108-25 Friday, with some Republicans objecting on grounds that it needs more accountability measures. They hope to work with senators to modify it.

Gov. Martin O'Malley sponsored the bill by request from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. He allocated the $1 million in his budget proposal.

Businesses, including convenience stores and start-ups, could apply for the grants. Nonprofits would also be eligible.

The bill is designed to dovetail with nutrition education programs already in place.

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