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To coincide with the rollout last week of the “Healthy Food/Healthy Communities” initiative and the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health Program (FRESH) by New York Gov. David A. Paterson, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, the New York Supermarket Commission and The Food Trust have issued a full list of recommendations, “Stimulating Supermarket Development: A New Day in New York.”
The commission, co-chaired by Nicholas D’Agostino III of D’Agostino Supermarkets Inc. and Jennifer Jones Austin of the United Way of New York City, offers nine policy recommendations developed over the past year by 40 experts from the private, public and civic sectors to spur supermarket development and boost the availability of nutritious, affordable food in communities throughout New York City and state.
The state and city’s initiatives aim to implement several key recommendations of the commission, among them customizing existing economic development incentives to meet the needs of supermarkets and developing a financing program for supermarkets. Additionally, the State Department of Health has provided a grant so that the city can hire a coordinator to provide market research to attract supermarkets, as well as helping supermarkets use these incentives and navigate the permitting and approval process.
Further recommendations include prioritizing land for supermarket development, improving transportation services, promoting green supermarket development and establishing an ongoing relationship among the private, public and civic sectors to implement these recommendations. The full report is available online at http://www.thefoodtrust.org/pdf/0509nycommission.pdf.
“Our goal was to assure a healthy diet for all of our citizens, especially our children, by recognizing the central role played by neighborhood supermarkets and formulating policy recommendations to encourage and promote their growth in underserved communities,” noted D’Agostino, who is also chairman of the board of the Food Industry Alliance. “I believe our labors are already beginning to bear fruit (and veggies!) as both the city and state announce economic initiatives to stimulate supermarket development and retention. Now it is critical that we all remain engaged in the implementation phase so that our commitment to good health and a healthy retail food sector becomes a reality.”
“With too few supermarkets in neighborhoods across the five boroughs and many existing businesses shutting their doors, much of the city is being affected by supermarket shortages, and a lack of access to affordable, healthy foods," observed Quinn. "In fact, it's estimated that the number of supermarkets has declined by one-third in the past six years. [The council has] already begun to implement some of these recommendations, helping us bring supermarkets to underserved areas and preserve existing markets that might otherwise be lost.”
The Food Trust strives to make healthy food available to all. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization has adopted a comprehensive approach combining nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.