Public Health Groups Applaud Caucus for Recommending $15 Million Boost to Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund

The fund is a good step toward ending food deserts – and creates jobs. 

The American Heart Association, the Alliance of New York State YMCAs, the Food Industry Alliance, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association and other supporters applaud the New York State Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus for recommending funding for the state’s Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund (HFHC Fund). The Caucus is calling for a $15 million increase to the HFHC Fund.

“Kids and families can’t eat healthy if they don’t have healthy choices,” said Julianne Hart, New York State Government Relations Director of the American Heart Association. “By replenishing the public-private HFHC Fund, New York legislators will ensure that healthy food retailers can open their doors in New York’s food deserts – communities where fruits, vegetables and other healthy fare are difficult to find.”

“Opening a full service grocery store can be an expensive and lengthy process which can make the task near impossible for many interested operators.  Replenishing the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund will make it possible for stores to enter underserved communities which desperately need full service supermarkets,” said Michael Rosen, president of the Food Industry Alliance.

The YMCA is dedicated to help families learn, grow and thrive.  We are committed to initiatives that prevent chronic disease and encourage healthy living.  The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus recognizes the need to give New Yorkers healthy food choices by sustaining the Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund.  The Y believes that the choices people make are the choices that people have, and further expansion of the Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund gives New Yorkers the opportunity to make the healthy choice,” said Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of NYS YMCAs.

“Obesity and diet are leading causes of cancer and this partnership to expand access to fresh foods is a key part of a coordinated strategy to reverse these trends in low-income areas,” said Michael Burgess, New York State Director of Advocacy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“Eating a healthy diet is important for people with diabetes and for people at risk for Type 2 diabetes,” said Stephen Habbe, Advocacy Director for the American Diabetes Association.  “The Association applauds the Caucus for their support for improving access to healthy foods in underserved communities, many of which have disproportionately high rates of diabetes.”

Not being able to get fresh, healthy food has been linked to chronic disease and poor health in these underserved areas, including high rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Six out of 10 adults and one-third of students in New York are considered overweight or obese. Obesity-related medical expenditures in New York total approximately $11.8 billion each year, according to NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

To date, the HFHC Fund has funded five projects in New York City and nine projects have been funded or approved in other communities, including Buffalo, Rochester, Poughkeepsie, Syracuse, Mount Vernon, Red Creek, Highland Falls, Conklin and Broome County. These public/private projects have brought markets to areas that previously lacked healthy food options.

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