New York City
Like many other cities in the US, New York City faces a supermarket shortage that is closely linked to health epidemics. At the request of the Mayor’s office, the Department of City Planning studied supermarket need in the city and, in April 2008, found a widespread shortage of supermarkets. This shortage causes a lack of healthy, fair-priced food options for many New Yorkers who live in a food desert. Food access issues are partly responsible for the facts that diabetes now affects over 700,000 people in New York City, over 1.1 million New Yorkers are obese, and another 2 million are overweight.
Health problems are especially prevalent in minority communities, and statistics indicate a racial dimension to the crisis: Supermarkets in Harlem are 30% less common than on the Upper East Side, and while 20% of Upper East Side bodegas carried leafy green vegetables, only 3% of those in Harlem could say the same.
Three million New Yorkers live in neighborhoods with high need for grocery stores and supermarkets. Neighborhoods such as Central and Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan; Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, East New York and Sunset Park in Brooklyn; Corona, Jamaica and Far Rockaway in Queens; areas of the South Bronx, Williamsbridge/Wakefield and portions of Pelham Parkway in the Bronx; and St. George and Stapleton in Staten Island show the greatest need for full-line supermarkets.
In February, 2008, Speaker Christine Quinn of the City Council announced the creation of a Statewide Supermarket Commission that will identify state and local policy solutions to encourage new supermarket development and to prevent supermarkets from closing. The Commission is led by the Food Trust and the Food Bank for New York City, in partnership with the City’s Food Policy Coordinator and the Food Industry Alliance. Simultaneously, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, which represents grocery store workers, is working to create healthy food options for all New Yorkers through supermarkets, Community-supported agriculture, urban agriculture, and farmers' markets.
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