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7 Onboard, 8 to Go for Vineland’s Corner Store Initiative

July 20, 2012 | Vineland

Seven Vineland corner stores and restaurants have signed on to work with NJPHK-Vineland and its partners, the Vineland Health Department and Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA, to provide healthy eating choices in their establishments.

The initiative was prompted by the results of the Community Healthy Living Index, an environmental and community survey, which identified the one mile radius around Vineland City Hall as a food desert—an area in which affordable healthy food is not readily available.

NJPHK-Vineland recognized an opportunity to engage store and restaurant owners and implement the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Toolkit, which can help proprietors increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy food choices for residents and children.

With a goal to implement the Toolkit in 15 establishments, the NJPHK-Vineland team is visiting corner stores and restaurants within the target area. They meet with proprietors and brainstorm ways to promote healthy items and include new healthy items on their menus and store shelves.

“The proprietors have been very responsive,” says Lisa Scheetz, NJPHK-Vineland Program Coordinator. “Tony Soprano’s Pizza is really jazzed to put healthy selections on its menu. Another store owner agreed to advertise our Salsa Sabor Y Salud program and asked us to take part in his local radio show.”

The seven establishments signed on to date include Carlo’s Pizza, el Mercadito, La Cabana Del Tio Tom, Mex-Express, Milly’s Deli, Tienda Ramirez, and Tony Soprano’s Pizza. In addition to bringing in healthy food selections, the businesses are working with the Dietician from the CCA YMCA to become WIC certified. Labels and information will be posted in stores designating healthy choices for consumers.

The NJPHK-Vineland team continues to explore opportunities with other area businesses to achieve their goal of 15 stores and restaurants onboard by December 2012. A meeting is being planned to bring the proprietors together to discuss goals and generate ideas.

“It takes a group effort to make a change in our community,” Scheetz observes. “Initially store owners were not aware of their impact on children in the community, but they were very open to make changes. They want to be part of the solution.”

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