Healthy food accessibility is an issue that affects thousands of New Jerseyans. Many rely on the local neighborhood store for groceries because a supermarket isn’t in close proximity. Unfortunately, many of these stores don’t carry healthy foods. When fresh produce and healthy options aren’t available for purchase, families are forced to consume foods often loaded with saturated fat, high levels of sodium and poor nutrition. According to the American Heart Association, this kind of diet can lead to an increase in major health issues including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which in turn results in a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.
The American Heart Association, YMCA and Food Trust have joined together to champion the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act (S-3043/ A-4505). Now, thanks to the support of Senator Lesniak, Senator Cruz-Perez, Senator Whelan and Senator Oroho of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, this important legislation, which would create a structure to connect local store owners with resources to increase availability of healthy foods in corner stores, has passed the first hurdle towards becoming law in New Jersey.
Passing this legislation would help provide many NJ communities fresher, nutritious food options. It would help make the healthy choice the easy choice—and doesn’t the Garden State deserve that option?
Carol Gill, MD
President, New Jersey American Heart Association | American Stroke Association Board of Directors
East Orange, NJ