Healthy food is good for our hearts and good for our city. Yet 1.2 million residents of New York City live in lower income communities with limited access to healthy food retail. These neighborhoods lack affordable retail and have higher rates of low-income residents, diet-related indicators, and accessibility by public transportation. This means that people need to either travel much farther to purchase healthy food, or rely on the nearby corner and convenience stores that often are more expensive and have poorer selection and quality of food.
That's why we're advocating to make healthy food affordable and accessible in every neighborhood, especially those most underserved by affordable retail and facing inequitable health outcomes.
The American Heart Association and over 40 organizations and Borough Presidents (click for list) are asking Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to fund the following programs that will help revitalize local economies, create jobs, and improve the health of New Yorkers:
- $15 million for SNAP Incentives: help New Yorkers afford fresh fruits and vegetables by expanding programs such as Health Bucks. 1 in 5 New Yorkers receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, which reduce food insecurity and help households rise out of poverty. SNAP incentives such as Health Bucks can help people eat more fruits and vegetables and increase the quality of their diet.
- $10 million for a Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI): help local food establishments to open, expand, and improve in neighborhoods that need food and jobs the most. An HFFI leverages both public and private funding to provide low-interest loans and grants specifically tailored for food establishments that may otherwise struggle to secure needed traditional capital. These programs increase access to healthy foods, create jobs for people in the neighborhood, create markets for farmers, and have the potential to lower health care costs.
- $3 million for Healthy Corner Store Initiatives: increase the amount of healthy food that is offered in bodegas, particularly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Healthy corner store initiatives help stores educate their customers about the availability of healthy options. These programs train and provide incentives such as grants and free equipment to corner store owners, so they make the commitment to provide healthier foods. In addition, they engage residents and community-based organizations to make sure consumers are educated and stores promote and market the healthy items.
For more information about the campaign, contact Greg Mihailovich, Director of Grassroots Advocacy.