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When Healthy Sells

April 5, 2014 | Community News, Trenton

Andres_Torres-2Fresh fruit cups are a best-seller at Andy’s Food Plus at 512 Pennington Avenue in Trenton’s North Ward.

The fruit cups debuted in November 2013 when Andres Torres, the store’s proprietor and a member of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Trenton (NJPHK-Trenton) Healthy Corner Store Initiative, began stocking and promoting more healthy food choices.

Torres, who grew up in the grocery business and opened his Trenton store seven years ago, likes to eat healthy himself and enjoys making affordable healthy snacks and meals available to his customers. Each morning, he hand-slices enough fresh fruit to fill 50 12-ounce cups. “I try to make something different every day,” Torres explained. “I use mangoes, strawberries, grapes, melons; whatever is fresh and available.” Fruit cups sell for $1.00 and usually are sold out by day’s end.

Andy’s Food Plus is one of four stores to sign on with the newly-evolved Trenton Healthy Food Network, continuing the efforts begun in fall 2012 by NJPHK-Trenton’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. For joining the Network, Torres received two refrigeration units for fresh produce and he agreed to introduce at least four new healthy food products. In addition to promoting the fruit cups, Torres displays fresh fruit in hanging baskets in the front of the store and positioned one of the refrigerators, which holds the fruit cups, along with fruit drinks, bottled water and yogurt, right next to the check-out counter for easy access.

The introduction of healthy foods not only gives customers an affordable alternative to sodas and unhealthy snacks, it also makes a statement, which Torres is apt to reinforce. “I’ll ask my customers if they’d like a yogurt or fruit cup in place of the chips,” Torres said.

As a further promotion, Torres, along with the three other participating stores, offers customers a “buy five healthy foods–get one free” frequent shopper card and features a “healthy food of the month.” Torres has also introduced salads with tuna, chicken and veggie options, all of which are popular on the menu.

As a family man with two teenage sons, Torres is proud to help his shoppers make better-informed food choices. “It’s important for the children, and for all of us,” he said.

Courtney Tilton, NJPHK-Trenton Healthy Food Access Coordinator, has been working with Torres ever since he signed on with the Network. “Andy’s enthusiasm for the healthy food initiative is infectious and inspiring,” she commented. “And his fruit cups are a huge hit.” Tilton recalled engaging two neighborhood children in making signs for the store’s healthy food debut. “When Andy brought out the fruit cups, they dropped their markers and ran over to buy one. It was wonderful to see.”

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