Expanding Nutrition Access: NJ’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative Targets Food Deserts
Statewide Initiative Boosts Healthy Food Options in Neighborhood Stores
MORRISTOWN, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has announced an ambitious expansion of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, allocating $1.75 million to enhance the availability of nutritious food in underserved areas. This initiative is particularly impactful in Atlantic City, earmarked for a $250,000 investment, addressing its status as a prominent food desert.
The initiative, driven by NJDOH's SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) and The Food Trust in New Jersey, seeks to mitigate the scarcity of healthy food choices in low-income communities. This scarcity not only affects dietary balance but also increases the risk of chronic diseases. With obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes on the rise, this program is a proactive step towards improving community health.
Approximately 150 stores will benefit from this expansion, receiving funds for essential equipment like refrigerators and freezers, necessary for stocking fresh foods. The initiative also offers educational resources for store owners.
Targeting food deserts, the program encourages applications from small stores and bodegas, especially those serving WIC or SNAP beneficiaries. Applications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, with funding distributed on a rolling basis.
“Ensuring every resident has access to nutritious food is an important part of our ongoing efforts through Nurture NJ to promote the health and well-being of families throughout New Jersey,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “By expanding the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, we will make it easier for countless parents to provide their children with the high-quality food they need to grow and thrive.
“In the coming year, the New Jersey Department of Health is prepared to designate some 150 stores as Healthy Corner Stores, improving access to healthy foods where they are needed most,” said Acting Commissioner Kaitlan Baston. “This initiative further advances our commitment to ending health disparities by increasing the availability of nutritious, affordable food in places that historically have been under-resourced.
The Healthy Corner Store Initiative, part of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, has three core objectives:
- Enhancing Healthy Food Accessibility: By equipping stores with necessary infrastructure, the initiative aims to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Empowerment through Training: Store owners will receive training and support to enhance the retail offering of healthier options, promoting both health and profitability.
- Fostering Community Partnerships: The initiative will build connections between store owners, local farmers, and food suppliers, establishing a network focused on improving food accessibility.
In FY22, SNAP-Ed engaged with 50 corner stores, benefitting over 127,000 individuals who accessed fresh produce through these outlets.
“Ensuring food security, especially to patrons eligible for SNAP and WIC benefits, is about more than just providing food. It’s also about creating better community resources and decreasing the burden of access to healthy food,” said Mark Dinglasan, Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate. “The Healthy Corner Store Initiative can help stores transform into healthy community resources that are more accessible to parents, caregivers, and families. I applaud this initiative and OFSA stands ready to support NJDOH and the SNAP-Ed unit in this effort.”