In many New Jersey communities, it’s easier to find grape soda than fresh grapes. Too many New Jerseyans live in communities where they are unable to make healthy food choices because there are no well-stocked grocery or convenience stores in their neighborhoods. The USDA identifies 134 low-income areas where a substantial number of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. The state took steps this year to change that.
The Healthy Small Food Retailer Act passed the New Jersey Senate legislature and was passed onto the Governor, who has until September when the legislature reconvenes, to sign the bill. This legislation creates a fund to expand programs in the state that provide assistance such as training, consumer education, marketing materials and equipment to small stores that wish to offer healthy, fresh food but lack the resources to do so. The initiative will improve access to healthy food and give economic support to smaller corner stores in underserved communities. But it doesn’t stop there: the next step is to continue to advocate for the Governor to sign the bill and work with the Legislature, Department of Health, and others to secure a stable source of funding.