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Policy Effort to Watch: The New Jersey Healthy Small Food Retailer Act
The American Heart Association, The Food Trust, and the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids have been working to educate policymakers at the state level about the lack of healthy food access in many lower-income communities and the impact of the program to build support for state investment in the initiative.  To date, legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and the Assembly. The “Healthy Small Food Retailer Act” was passed favorably by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Senate Economic Growth Committee. Advocates continue to work on moving the Act through the legislative process in the state. 

 

Background and Advocacy
In 2014, The Food Trust and the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids launched a partnered effort to launch a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative in New Jersey. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Campbell’s Soup Company, and the New Jersey Department of Health, the initiative has grown to include over 125 participating stores in 19 cities across the state. Participating stores receive a range of customized support and technical assistance including training on how to stock and display fresh produce and other healthy products; marketing materials, such as shelf talkers and recipe cards; equipment, such as baskets and shelving; and in-store consumer education programs such as nutrition lessons, taste tests and health screenings. 
As part of this statewide initiative, The Food Trust, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, and the American Heart Association convened the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Task Force in October 2014. Comprised of nearly 40 leaders from the health, financial, philanthropic, government, business, distribution and food retail sectors, the task force was formed to explore barriers to offering healthy foods in corner stores in underserved communities and identify strategies to increase the distribution, promotion, and sale of healthy products. The group released its recommendations in 2015 in the new report “Supporting Healthy Corner Store Development in New Jersey.” 
 
Links for more information:
 
New Jersey Food Access Initiative

In 2010, the New Jersey Food Council and the New Jersey Economic Development Agency, in conjunction with The Food Trust, convened the New Jersey Food Marketing Task Force. The task force developed a series of recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved areas across the state.                                   

In 2009, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) collaborated with The Reinvestment Fund to launch  the New Jersey Food Access Initiative (NJFAI), a statewide financing program to improve access to healthy foods. NJFAI makes grants and loans available to support supermarket developers and operators, food hubs, and other formats of fresh food retail that will increase access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved areas across the state, with emphasis on serving the following ten cities: Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson, Trenton, and Vineland.  

Responding to the task force recommendations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) contributed a $10 million Program Related Investment (PRI) and a $2 million grant to NJFAI in 2012.  This investment compliments the work of community coalitions funded by RWJF to combat childhood obesity as part of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK).  NJFAI's other financial partners include Living Cities ($2 million), NJEDA ($4 million), and The Reinvestment Fund ($2 million).

See the New Jersey Food Access Initiative for more information.

 

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