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Vineland Explores Creation of a Healthy Food Network

June 21, 2016 | Community News, Community News and Media, Vineland

New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-V) successfully introduced The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative into Vineland. As a result, over 25 corner stores have expanded the sale and marketing of affordable, nutritious food to residents in lower-income communities, which often have limited access to healthy food choices.

Now Live Healthy Vineland is exploring the feasibility of expanding the corner store model to create a Healthy Food Network, consisting of food pantries and restaurants, as well as corner stores.

“The broader network will take into consideration all areas where food is accessible,” said David Calderetti, NJPHK-V Project Manager. Live Healthy Vineland has applied for a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to underwrite the effort. In the meantime, they are surveying Vineland food pantry directors and consulting with restaurant owners to create a strategic plan for expansion that will consider potential obstacles and opportunities to ensure success.

“We are evaluating the findings of the surveys from a dozen Vineland-area food pantries to understand how each site operates,” said Calderetti. “By having a baseline that identifies standards and practices of local pantries, we can assess where gaps exist in what is provided versus what may be needed by clients. For instance, a pantry might not promote the donation of foods that are beneficial to those that are pre-diabetic or have diabetes. We want to ensure that we address gaps for food access that exist throughout Vineland.”

Several restaurant owners are serving on an advisory committee to explore ways in which patrons can be made aware of healthy menu items. Initial suggestions range from menu inserts about healthy menu items to special healthy meals available that day.

Final plans are several months off, but Calderetti said that the drive is to have a pantry and restaurant component by 2017.

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