The Bronx Health REACH Coalition Submits Testimony to NYC Council to Include Policies Supporting Bodegas Selling Healthy Foods
The Bronx Health REACH Coalition submitted testimony to the New York City Council’s 10-year food policy plan discussed in Int 1654, which requires the Office of Food Policy to formulate a 10-year food policy plan. The Bronx Health REACH Coalition is supportive of the bills being considered in the hearing and appreciative of the Council’s attention to building an equitable food system for all New Yorkers, however, we are disappointed that there is no discussion of policies that support increasing access to affordable healthy foods and beverages in bodegas or corner stores. Bodegas are ubiquitous in the Bronx especially in low-income communities of color such as the south Bronx where health disparities are greatest and access to fruits and vegetables is limited.
Bodegas are an important part of New York City’s food system as there are over 12,000 bodegas in the city. Advancing food equity in New York City must incorporate bills that aim to increase access to and reduce the price of healthy food and beverages in bodegas where many members of our community shop for snacks, drinks, and made to order items. We recommend that future City Council bills address consumer demand and access as it is our experience that you cannot make an impact in improving health outcomes in the South Bronx without both. Many bodega owners are interested in offering healthy food options in their stores; however, they cannot sell the products if no one buys them. Conversely, many residents want to purchase healthier food and beverage options, but either the food is not available in their communities or it is too expensive.
Below are a few ideas from our Coalition and Bronx Bodega Partners Workgroup for how to achieve these goals:
Support community-led, multi-lingual marketing campaigns such as the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh Bronx Bodega Marketing Campaign developed by community groups and the Bronx Bodega Partners Workgroup that promote healthy food options sold in bodegas;
Eliminate marketing of unhealthy foods at bodegas;
Develop a pilot program in the Bronx that provides financial incentives for bodega customers to purchase healthier foods and beverages;
Expand the FRESH initiative to include bodegas.
Read the full testimony below.
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