Green Carts Will Bring Fresh Produce to New Yorkers

NEW YORK, New York, December 21, 2007 (ENS) – Apples, oranges, lettuce, green beans – they are part of a healthy diet, but many New Yorkers live in neighborhoods where fresh fruits and vegetables are not available in stores. As a remedy, New York soon may be dotted with food carts that sell only fresh produce.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Tuesday proposed legislation that would increase the number of greengrocers’ carts where access to fresh fruit and vegetables is limited.

The Green Cart proposal, recommended by the Food Policy Task Force, calls for 1,500 cart permits to be phased in over two years, and requires vendors to operate in designated neighborhoods where consumption of fruits and vegetables is low.

“Access to healthy foods varies widely throughout New York City, and in many lower-income neighborhoods, supermarkets are few and far between. There is demand for fruits and vegetables in these neighborhoods, and this regulatory change will enable the market to meet that demand,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Fresh fruits and vegetables on
carts will offered in New York
neighborhoods. (Photo courtesy

“The Green Cart legislation will also provide opportunities for vendors to make a living selling fresh fruits and vegetables in communities where healthy food can be difficult to find,” he said.

Cart permits will be issued for vendors in areas throughout the five boroughs where fruit and vegetable consumption is low. Bronx and Brooklyn will each get 500 permits; Queens will receive 250 permits; Manhattan will have 200, and Staten Island will receive 50 permits.

“The only way we’ll ever put a dent in the dual problems of malnutrition and obesity is to increase access to healthy food,” said Quinn. “The Council has taken major steps to improve access to nutritious food, and with this legislation, we’ll take another bold effort towards becoming a healthier and more equitable city.”

A recent Health Department study comparing the low income neighborhood of Harlem to the upscale Upper East Side found that supermarkets in Harlem are 30 percent less common, and that only three percent of bodegas in Harlem carry leafy green vegetables as compared to 20 percent on the Upper East Side.

The Green Cart legislation covers neighborhoods where at least 12 percent of adults reported, in Health Department surveys, that they did not eat any fruits or vegetables on the previous day.

“We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden. “In some neighborhoods, rates of obesity and diabetes are 50 percent higher than the citywide average. To tackle this problem, and help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, we must change our environment and make healthy food more available.”

The mayor and the speaker also announced a new partnership with The Food Trust and the Food Bank for New York City that will work with supermarket operators to develop policies encouraging them to locate in neighborhoods in need of improved access to healthy foods.

“Our work at the Food Bank and FoodChange to address hunger, poverty and nutrition issues has taught us that creating access to affordable, nutritious food in low-income communities is the long-term solution we need,” said Food Bank President Lucy Cabrera.

“The city’s new Green Cart legislation will put fresh fruits and vegetables on the tables of families in low-income neighborhoods across the city, and that is a huge achievement by any measure.”

“One of the easiest ways to better our health is to eat more fruits and vegetables every day,” said Ulysses Kilgore, president of the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center in Brooklyn.

“And while some New Yorkers are already doing this, many of us have difficulty because fresh fruits and vegetables are not as accessible in our neighborhoods,” he said. “This proposal will make it possible for every New Yorker to choose a healthier diet.”

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