Ideas for Action: Food and Nutrition
Full-service grocery stores are valuable neighborhood assets. Providing incentives for grocery stores to locate in underserved neighborhoods is a beneficial strategy to improve health, because access to grocery stores is correlated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased intake of fat.53 Attracting and supporting grocery stores can also improve the neighborhood’s economic sustainability by anchoring future retail development, providing tax revenue and creating local jobs.
Encouraging local restaurants to display nutritional information in retail food outlets offers a promising strategy to help people consume fewer calories.54 Nutritional information can be provided on the menu, the menu board or as a separate readily available pamphlet.55 Some local restaurants have found that reviewing their menus has allowed them to save time and money by standardizing food preparation.
Studies show low-income communities have less access to healthy affordable food vendors than wealthier communities.56 Farmers markets and community gardens can be important supplementary food sources in such communities.57 Establishing and supporting venues to sell local agricultural products also benefits area farmers and related businesses. Many California farmers markets have sought authorization to accept federal and state food benefits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because market operators found them to be a major source of revenue.58
Local agencies can publicize and encourage enrollment events and other sign-up opportunities for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. Every dollar in benefits generates nearly twice that amount in local economic activity.59 By increasing the number of people in SNAP and WIC, communities bring in additional federal expenditures to support local businesses.60