The “Healthy Small Food Retailer Act” was passed by the General Assembly by a vote of 59-17 on Monday, March 26. The legislation now awaits consideration by the New Jersey Senate.
TRENTON, NJ– Legislation sponsored by Paterson’s Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly geared towards increase the availability of healthy, nutritious foods in lower income, urban and rural communities, was passed by the Assembly Agriculture Committee on Monday.
According to statement by Wimberly, the bill (A-2164), known as the "Healthy Small Food Retailer Act," would assist small food retailers operating in low and moderate income urban and rural communities in New Jersey by providing funds for retailers to increase the availability and sales of fresh and nutritious food.
"This bill is designed to boost the availability of fresh produce and other healthy foods, at affordable prices, to residents in neighborhoods that are typically underserved in this area," said Wimberly. "Ultimately, our goal is to improve the health and wellness of community residents in low-income and urban areas."
The bill requires the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a "Healthy Corner Store Program" to increase the availability and sales of fresh produce and nutritious, healthy food by small food retailers in rural and urban low and moderate income areas, and to establish a "Healthy Small Food Retailer Fund" to support the program. The DOH, according to the statement, would select non-profit organizations to administer the program that would then distribute the money to small retailers, in target areas for a variety of uses including education, materials for healthy food promotion, and up to $5000 for refrigeration, display shelving, or other equipment necessary to keep stock of healthy foods and fresh produce.