The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is set to expand the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a program aimed at increasing the availability and awareness of nutritious food and beverage options in neighborhood corner stores in underserved communities. The expansion will particularly benefit patrons eligible for SNAP and WIC benefits.
The Department is making $1.75 million available across stores statewide and is investing $250,000 towards stores specifically in Atlantic City. The initiative, spearheaded by the SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) unit in NJDOH’s Division of Family Health Services in collaboration with The Food Trust in New Jersey, works to respond to food access disparities observed in lower-income communities.
The lack of healthy food choices in these neighborhoods hinders residents’ ability to maintain a balanced diet and significantly impacts their overall well-being and risks of experiencing chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The expansion is expected to benefit about 150 stores, providing funding for items such as refrigeration and freezers to help with stocking fresh food items as well as educational opportunities for store owners. The statewide program aims to prioritize food deserts and is encouraging interested small stores and bodegas to apply, particularly if they serve residents receiving WIC or SNAP benefits.
“Ensuring every resident has access to nutritious food is an important part of our ongoing efforts through Nurture NJ to promote the health and well-being of families throughout New Jersey,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “By expanding the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, we will make it easier for countless parents to provide their children with the high-quality food they need to grow and thrive.”
“In the coming year, the New Jersey Department of Health is prepared to designate some 150 stores as Healthy Corner Stores, improving access to healthy foods where they are needed most,” said Acting Commissioner Kaitlan Baston. “This initiative further advances our commitment to ending health disparities by increasing the availability of nutritious, affordable food in places that historically have been under-resourced.”
In FY22, SNAP-Ed recruited and worked with 50 corner stores in the state serving 127,617 individuals who accessed these stores for fresh fruits and vegetables.