Fruits and vegetables are a delicious and affordable way for you and your family to eat healthy, and the Health Department wants to encourage Harlemites and New Yorkers to make healthy choices when grabbing a snack to eat on the go. The new “Take Me With You” ad campaign, which will be at bus stops, check cashing locations and on pole banners throughout the city, reminds New Yorkers that packing an apple, banana or some carrot sticks is an easy way to add fruits and vegetables to their diet instead of less healthy options.
“Eating well is important for good health, and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet can help prevent chronic disease, such as heart disease,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We want to encourage everyone to make healthy choices, and we continue to take steps to ensure that fresh produce is an accessible and affordable option for all New Yorkers.”
Consumption of healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, is associated with better health outcomes, especially heart health; however, access to these foods can vary. In 2011, the Health Department collected data on perceived availability, quality, and cost of fresh fruits and vegetables in New York City. We found that while nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers said they could walk 10 minutes or less to a store that sold fresh produce, residents who lived in neighborhoods with high obesity rates were further from a store that sold fresh fruits and vegetables than people in neighborhoods with low obesity rates. And the likelihood of the quality of produce being perceived as excellent was lower in residents of high obesity neighborhoods compared to low obesity neighborhoods.
In an effort to address these disparities, the Health Department has introduced many initiatives to increase access to fruits and vegetables throughout New York City. This includes Health Bucks, which are coupons for low-income New Yorkers that can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at every farmers’ market in New York City, and Green Carts, which sell whole fresh fruits and vegetables in specific areas of the city where consumption of fruits and vegetables was lowest, prevalence of diet-related diseases was highest, and availability of fresh produce was limited.
New Yorkers can text “SoGood” to 877877 to find a nearby farmers’ market. All markets accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as “Food Stamps”) and will give one $2 Health Buck coupon to each customer for every $5 spent using SNAP. Community organizations may apply to receive Health Bucks to distribute to their clients as an incentive to support nutrition education and other health-related activities. Click here to find a farmers’ market in your neighborhood.
The Health Department has also released new data on our Green Cart program, showing that Green Carts have contributed to an increase in the availability of fresh produce in neighborhoods where consumption of fresh produce was lowest. In 2008, when a law was passed establishing Green Cart permits, 50 percent of establishments in Green Cart neighborhoods sold both fruits and vegetables compared to 57 percent in non-Green Cart neighborhoods. In 2011, the percentage increased to 69 percent, whereas there were no changes in the comparison neighborhoods. Corner stores mainly accounted for the overall increase in both amount and variety of fresh produce sold, and this change was sustained over two years.
For more information on all of our healthy eating initiatives, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/eating-well2.shtml
For more information on perceived access to fruits and vegetables, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/sogood.shtml
For more information on the impact of Green Carts, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/epi/databrief48.pdf