We've suffered an unfortunate set back on the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act.
The governor conditionally vetoed the bill on August 31. He suggested that the bill be amended to direct the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health to review existing programs to determine if resources could be better utilized.
While we certainly agree with optimizing available resources, the purpose of the new program would have been to increase access to healthier foods, not just affordability. Affordability is the focus of programs such as WIC and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). However, too often recipients have few places in their neighborhood where they can use their benefits to shop for healthy food. The Healthy Small Food Retailer Act would have helped address this lack of access by working with small business owners on a voluntary basis to make sure that they have the resources needed to offer fresh, healthy products to their customers.
The fight is not over! In fact, on September 1, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, along with a few of the bill sponsors, held a press conference at Lucky Fox, a small store in Newark that is part of the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative, and vowed to continue the conversation and efforts to increase healthy food access.
We are working diligently to figure out the next steps in the process, and will continue to update our You're the Cure advocates and provide opportunities to show your support in the near future.