The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity and the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office (DPHO) today joined New York State Senator Jose M. Serrano and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer outside Wild Olive Market, in East Harlem, to recognize store owners in the community for participating in Shop Healthy NYC. This year, the program promoted access to healthier foods in 18 East Harlem neighborhood bodegas and supermarkets, expanding the proportion advertising healthy foods and stocking healthier food options by nearly 40% percent in zip code 10035. Thirteen (13) stores successfully completed the Shop Healthy NYC retail challenge, reached all seven Shop Healthy NYC criteria, and were recognized with proclamations from Senator Serrano and Manhattan Borough President Brewer.
“We are excited to recognize local store owners for their commitment to providing greater access to healthier, nutritious foods in East Harlem through Shop Healthy NYC,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Shopping for healthier food options is easier when fresh fruits, produce, whole grains, and water are offered and prominently displayed in bodegas and food stores. Shop Healthy NYC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
“More often than not, communities of color are faced with limited access to healthy foods and beverages,” said Dr. Noel Manyindo, Assistant Commissioner of the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office. “These neighborhoods are often targeted by marketing for junk food and sugar sweetened beverages. Shop Healthy NYC works to improve the retail environment in East Harlem bodegas and supermarkets to give community residents access to healthy foods and beverages.”
Today’s proclamation event at Wild Olive Market recognizes the store’s involvement with the East Harlem community and their promotion of healthy food through a “vegetable art” gallery. The “vegetable art” gallery unveiled today decorates the wall behind the deli counter, and features artwork from neighborhood children who participate in the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Healthy Harlem program and the Association to Benefit Children’s Health Justice program. The art will be rotated throughout the year to recognize the work of more neighborhood children and sustain their families’ excitement for neighborhood-focused food stores with healthy options. This effort was coordinated with support from New Harlem East Merchants Association (NHEMA), a group of small businesses and community members along East 125th Street who collaborate to build a stronger neighborhood.
“The communities I represent in East Harlem suffer from some of the worst health disparities anywhere. While many factors contribute to these disparities, lack of neighborhood access to healthy foods is a major contributing factor,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano. “Through the efforts of the ever expanding Shop Healthy NYC program and the New York City Department of Health, we are encouraging local markets to take a more proactive approach in addressing health disparities caused by unhealthy eating. I applaud all the local shops and bodegas taking the bold step toward better neighborhood health by providing and promoting healthy food choices in their stores.”
“Fresh, healthy food isn’t a luxury, it’s a health necessity. Families in every neighborhood must be able to easily put fresh food on the table,” saidManhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I commend the businesses participating in Shop Healthy NYC for leading by example and helping more New Yorkers access fresh, healthy foods in East Harlem.”
Shop Healthy NYC expanded in East Harlem’s zip code 10035 in January 2016; forty-five stores were assessed for participation in the zip code. As a result, eighteen stores accepted the Shop Healthy retail challenge to prioritize the stocking and promotion of healthy foods in their stores. Of the eighteen (18) stores, thirteen (13) have met and maintained the Shop Healthy NYC criteria for a month, while minimizing the promotion of junk food. The stores will receive proclamations from Senator Serrano and Manhattan Borough President Brewer for meeting the program’s seven criteria, which include:
- Promoting healthy food and beverages with Shop Healthy NYC marketing materials
- Offering fruits and vegetables at the front of the store or the cash register
- Displaying water and low-calorie refrigerated drinks at eye-level
- Offering and promoting a healthy sandwich or meal combo at the deli counter
- Stocking low-sodium canned goods and canned fruit in 100% juice
- Stocking at least two healthy snack items, and
- Removing all advertising from the entry door
Shop Healthy NYC works to increase access to healthier food in neighborhoods with high rates of diet-related chronic illnesses. The Health Department’s Community Health Survey data for 2014 shows that 34% of residents in the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office area were obese. Obesity can lead to several chronic conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. In the East and Central Harlem DPHO area, almost 14% of adults reported having diabetes. Diabetes is twice as common among New Yorkers who are obese and both conditions disproportionally affect low-income communities where there is less access to healthy food options.
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Shop Healthy NYC is a program of the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity, which is leading the charge to make sure that all communities have the same opportunity to be healthy and well. For more information about Shop Healthy NYC, call (212) 996-8513.
Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using the #NYCHealthEquity.