This month, two stores joined the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative by adding healthier options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, to their corner store.
La Placita Grocery in Elizabeth held their celebration event on Wednesday, May 16th. Honorable J. Christian Bollwage, Mayor of Elizabeth, Shaping Elizabeth, the Food Trust and members of the community, joined as we celebrated a day filled with music, learning, blood pressure screenings, games, and of course, healthy snacks!
Denisse Supermarket, followed the next day with another amazing celebration with the Jersey City community. Mario E. Pozo Vanegas, MD, board member for the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association, welcomed all as residents stopped by to see the healthy options added to their corner store.
The lack of access to healthy, affordable food is a constant problem for many New Jersey residents. According to the CDC Modified Retail Food Environment Index, 51% of Union County residents live in areas with low access to healthy foods. The New Jersey Healthy Corner Stores Initiative is a public health and economic development initiative that links community partners with store owners to provide healthy, affordable foods in communities that are underserved by supermarkets.
Although underserved markets in New Jersey do need more supermarkets, there are an abundance of corner stores, bodegas, and other small food retailers who sell mostly unhealthy options such as soda, chips, candy and cakes. This is concerning as many residents nearby depend on these stores to feed their family because the supermarket is too far away. Most of the traffic in these stores are children on their way to or from school, purchasing about 360 calories per visit. La Placita Grocery is located right across the street from School #6. As kids walked home, got off the bus, or even just stopped by for groceries, it was great to see them choose an apple instead of potato chips or water vs. soda. Building healthy habits, especially in children, are important for maintaining a healthy heart.
Local store owners do want to meet the needs of their customers, but often lack the resources needed to sell healthier items. The initiative provides training, marketing, consumer education materials, equipment and other resources needed to sell healthy items to store owners who choose to participate. We look forward to bringing this initiative to many of our corner stores throughout the Garden State.
For more information on the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative, visit https://njhealthycornerstores.heart.org/.