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A report last week from New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo's office that found drug stores are selling expired food shows the critical need for more supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, according to a local union that represents supermarket workers.
"This report proves that we shouldn't rely on drug stores to provide necessary food items to the community," said John R. Durso president of Local 338 of the RWDSU/UFCW. "This is an issue of the public's health and safety, and the solution is obvious -- there must be more supermarkets located in the city's low-income communities, and New York City needs an effective strategy to add these quality food stores in more neighborhoods."
According to Durso, that strategy must include incentives such as tax breaks for grocers.
"With the cost of rent and doing business in the city, as well as the small profit in the food business, quality supermarkets are disappearing from most communities," he said. "We must develop a campaign to interest this important industry so food stores can be opened in many more locations throughout the five boroughs, so people won't be dependent upon drug stores for basic food items such as milk, eggs, and infant formula."
More grocery stores selling quality food "will stabilize neighborhoods and provide permanent jobs for local residents," observed Durso, who added that Local 338 would work with the mayor and his commission, along with the speaker and City Council on the issue.
The report, which was released June 12, claimed that 142 CVS and 112 Rite Aid stores across New York State were carrying expired milk, eggs, medicine, and baby formula, among other outdated products. The stores named in the report received five-day notice letters informing them of the attorney general's intent to initiate litigation against them for their failure to remove the products from their shelves, the report said.
An affiliate of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the 1.4 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 338 represents over 18,000 supermarket, dairy, and health care workers in New York City and Long Island.