Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposed $1 billion in grants and loans yesterday for her "Healthy Food Financing Initiative," aimed at building grocery stores in areas that lack access to fresh food. AP reports that the measure would try to help almost four million New York residents living in "food deserts" by providing startup grants for 350 new grocery stores statewide. She said, "By building new grocery stores in underserved areas across the state we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs, and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs."
Gillibrand unveiled the legislation with Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who noted that low-income neighborhoods with little access to fresh food generally have higher levels of obesity and diabetes. Currently the Bronx has the highest obesity rates in the city, and 55% of all city residents are either overweight or obese.
According to her press release, 273 of the new grocery stores would be in the city, and Gillibrand estimates that over 26,000 new jobs would be created. Velazquez said, "This initiative is about empowering families to make healthier food choices so they live longer." This is one of many healthy eating initiatives happening in the city, all which have received mixed support.