ABS is directing communications to advance a policy that would put healthier foods in local corner stores. The following LTE in support of the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative appeared in various media outlets, including the print editions of The Times of Trenton and The Star-Ledger and on NJ.com.
Nearly 10% of New Jersey’s population doesn’t have access to healthy food options due to lack of supermarkets. This limited access to stores that sell fresh produce means these residents are forced to buy what’s available, not necessarily what’s healthy.
Disparity in food access is impacting the wellbeing of many NJ families and their communities. Obesity is disproportionately higher in neighborhoods where residents lack access to nutritious foods. These areas are also cut off from the economic benefits that accompany anchor supermarkets: steady jobs, increased property values, and additional retail investment.
The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative is a public health and economic development strategy that’s addressing these inequities in five pilot cities. It’s reinvesting in these communities by collaborating with corner stores to increase nutritious options. Local partners are providing small retailers education, training and support to profitably sell affordable, healthy food. Through this initiative, many store owners have been able to bring additional jobs to the community.
It’s time for policymakers to make a public investment that will enable the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative to be expanded statewide. Every underserved community in the Garden State has a right to these fundamental health and economic benefits.
Darrin Anderson, PhD
Associate Executive Director
New Jersey YMCA State Alliance