Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Retail Food Stores and Health

As we have been commentating, we believe that the city's supermarkets, green grocers and bodegas have an important role to play when it comes to encouraging New Yorkers to eat healthier foods. As Crain's In$ider is reporting this morning Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez has introduced the Bodegas as Catalysts for Health Living Act, a bill that would provide grants for bodegas to act as health educators for low income consumers. This is precisely the kind of policy approach that the city needs.

It stands in sharp contrast to the City Council's greenmarkets initiative. This approach, one that actually subsidizes the expansion of these outdoor fresh fruit outlets, directly competes with the local store owners in a community. If legislators feel that existing stores aren't providing folks with all of the good food that they need than it would be more useful-and equitable-to develop proposals that include store owners rather than ones that put them at risk.

This is a theme that the Alliance stressed in a meeting last week with EDC and folks from the mayor's office. There are major trends at work in this city that don't bode well for the continued survival of local supermarkets. We need the city to set up a task force to deal with these trends and healthier eating initiatives should be part of the focus.