Thursday, January 08, 2009

Healthy Economic Development

Speaking of supermarket development-and the mayor's nonfeasance in this area-it was refreshing to see that Governor Paterson elevated this issue in his outline of of this health issue. As he said in his SoS mnessage: "Our five-point plan includes the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, which offers a new revolving loan fund that will increase the number of healthy food markets in underserved communities."

And, as the UFCW Local 1500 wrote in a press release issued after the speech:

"United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, New York State's and New York City’s largest Labor Union representing supermarket workers, applauded Governor David Patterson today for his announcement in the State of State of a Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative. Such an initiative includes $10 million dollars for revolving loans to food markets interested in locating in “underserved” communities.“Today Governor David Patterson showed that New York State is prepared to get serious about the health and economic consequences of our disappearing Supermarkets,” stated Bruce W. Both, President of United Food Commercial Workers Union Local 1500. President Both also serves as a member of the Governor’s Council on Food Policy and the New York City Supermarket Commission."

Now the logistics of this fund need to be worked out, and the locating of sites is crucial here as well, but this is clearly moving in a positive direction; supermarket development is both an economic as well as a health concern: "UFCW Local 1500 has spent the last 2 years working with State, County and City officials on the growing problem of disappearing supermarkets and its affect on the health and economies of communities. New York City’s own Department of City Planning conducted a report that concluded that New York City alone is need of over 100 full service Supermarkets.“When responsible supermarkets owners/operators open in communities, they bring excellent wages, healthcare and an improved standard of living. The community also gets access to healthy food, a greater number of products available, as well as the type of competition that forces reasonable pricing and improved product quality," said President Both."

Now if we can only get the city and state to work together on this, we might begin to see some headway-with zoning restrictions needing to be lifted so that certain sites can be developed in a reasonable manner. We're hopeful that the city council will jump on this so that economic and land use barriers can be lifted, and more supermarkets built.