One of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's health initiatives has proved very successful in changing the way some shops in Brooklyn promote and sell veggies, and the current administration aims to expand it.
The Health Department unveiled Wednesday the results of the Shop Healthy NYC, which launched last year in 170 East New York food stores, and found more than 80% of bodegas and supermarkets in that area increased their stock of healthier food options and advertising for those items.
Stores that participated in the program reported a 59% increase in sales for healthier foods during the first year of Shop Healthy, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.
"While the health impact of these changes may take some time, Shop Healthy NYC creates an immediate shift in the food retail environment, engaging residents, retailers and food suppliers and distributors to ensure New Yorkers have equal access to healthier food and beverages," she said in a statement.
The pilot program was created with a partnership for the anti-poverty group Center for Economic Opportunity as a way to entice inner city food stores to advocate healthier options since they lead the city in obesity rates. The Bronx, for example, has an obesity rate of 32%, compared to 14.7% in Manhattan.
Basset said the program will expand to the East Tremont section of the Bronx, and has the support of several groups and officials in the Bronx.
"Our residents will have healthier food in their neighborhood stores, which will give them an easy, affordable opportunity to take a first step toward a healthier lifestyle," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement.