Shop Healthy NYC program increases access and promotion to healthier food and beverage options in 19 East New York stores
New Department data show there were approximately 22 ads for unhealthy foods for every one ad for healthy foods in ZIP code 11208
November 30, 2016 – The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Center joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at Sajoma Deli Grocery, an East New York bodega, to recognize 19 food stores with a special citation for participating in Shop Healthy NYC. The program works to increase access and promotion of healthier food and beverages in neighborhoods with high rates of diet-related chronic illnesses. Over the past three years, Shop Healthy NYC has been working in ZIP codes 11207 and 11208 to increase access and promotion of healthy foods and beverages in community stores. During this time, 137 stores accepted the Shop Healthy Food Retail Challenge to prioritize the stocking and promotion of healthy foods in their stores. In 2014, 21 stores from ZIP code 11208 reached all seven Shop Healthy NYC criteria. Today, as 85 stores in ZIP code 11207 complete participation in the Shop Healthy NYC program, 19 are receiving a citation for achieving all seven of the program’s criteria. The Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. and East New York Restoration Local Development Corp. are being recognized with a citation for their continued work with neighborhood stores and partnership with the program.
Shop Healthy NYC’s work is further highlighted by a new Epi Data Brief entitled, “Access to Healthy and Affordable Food in East New York (PDF).” The Epi Data Brief characterizes the types of food establishments and the availability and promotion of selected foods and beverages in ZIP code 11208 of East New York. The data show that there were approximately 22 advertisements for unhealthy foods for every one advertisement for healthy foods in ZIP code 11208. The disproportionate number of advertising for unhealthy products affect low-income communities where there is already less access to healthy food options. Residents of these neighborhoods are more likely to consume sugary drinks and less likely to eat fruits and vegetables when compared with other residents of Brooklyn and the city overall. The Epi Data Brief can be found here (PDF).
“There is a common misperception that Blacks and Latinos who live in underserved neighborhoods don’t want to make healthy lifestyle choices. As our data show, advertisements for unhealthy products disproportionately affect communities that already lack access to healthy food, leaving residents with little choice,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Shop Healthy NYC program shows that with a little support, sustainable change can be made to ensure that all residents of New York City can have equitable access to healthy food.”
“Access to healthy food is critical for residents who suffer from higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure than the rest of the city. We cannot continue to raise our families on chicken wings and fried rice. New Yorkers need access to fresh produce, including greens grown in their own communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Even simple changes in store marketing strategies, such as placing water and low-calorie foods at eye-level, can make a difference in the decisions people make. The work of Shop Healthy NYC has allowed the 91,000 residents of East New York to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
Data were collected through the East New York Food Environment Audit 2014, which was conducted by the Center for Health Equity’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Center. After visiting all of the bodegas and grocery stores in ZIP code 11208 and assessing those that agreed to participate, data collectors also canvassed the neighborhood and recorded the names, addresses and types of all 264 food service and food retail establishments, including bodegas, grocery stores, fast food restaurants, full-service restaurants, Green Carts, fruit and vegetable carts and stores, food carts, and specialty grocers. The “Access to Healthy and Affordable Food in East New York” Epi Data Brief highlights:
- Half of the 264 food establishments identified in the area were bodegas (51 percent), while fast food restaurants made up the second most common type of food establishment, at 27 percent.
- The top three products advertised at the stores assessed were sugary drinks (88 percent), alcohol (74 percent) and tobacco (58 percent).
- Few stores advertised healthier foods or beverages. Only 10 percent advertised water (eight bodegas, one grocery store) and 26 percent (22 bodegas, two grocery stores) advertised low-calorie or diet drinks. No stores advertised healthy snacks or produce.
- Most (93 percent) of the 82 bodegas that agreed to be assessed sold some kind of fresh produce. Among bodegas that sold produce, fresh fruit was slightly less available than fresh vegetables—17 percent sold no fresh fruit and 11 percent sold no fresh vegetables.
- Of the 76 bodegas that agreed to be assessed, 87 percent accepted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but only 27 percent accepted Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC). Of the grocery stores assessed, all 11 accepted SNAP and nine accepted WIC.
“Working with Shop Healthy is an important part of Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s work to build a healthy neighborhood environment. For this reason, we continue to work with 20 bodegas to maintain the changes that the Health Department has made,” said Executive Director of Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Michelle Neugebaur.
The 19 stores recognized by Borough President Adams successfully completed the Shop Healthy NYC Retail Challenge and achieved all seven of the 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 percent juice
- Stocking at least two healthy snack items, and
- Removing all advertising from the entry door
About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity
Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. The Neighborhood Health Action Centers, opening soon, will better link residents with local primary care and community services. The Action Centers will also provide space for community-based organizations and Health Department staff to work together to advance neighborhood health. For more information, visit the Center for Health Equity webpage.
Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.
Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez
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