Supes Approve Plan To Encourage Corner Stores To Sell Healthier Foods

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee today approved legislation that will provide incentives to corner stores that sell healthier foods in the city.

The ordinance, authored by Supervisor Eric Mar, follows smaller-scale efforts recently that have targeted the city’s Bayview and Tenderloin neighborhoods, where many markets offered processed food, tobacco and alcohol options and lacked fresh produce and other healthy meals.

“We’re turning it citywide,” Mar said.

He said at today’s meeting of the board’s land use and economic development committee that the lack of healthy food “has really become a civil rights issue for many of our lower-income neighborhoods.”

The legislation will provide free assistance from finance and merchandizing consultants, priority consideration for grants and offers other perks from the city for businesses that agree to devote at least 35 percent of their selling area to produce, whole grains, lean protein and dairy and devotes less than 20 percent of the space to alcohol and tobacco products.

The program will be overseen by the city’s Office of Economic Workforce Development in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and local community groups.

Mar said the program is a “one-stop shop” to help businesses transform into ones that sell healthier food while staying competitive with other markets.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, a co-sponsor of the legislation, represents the Bayview District, which she said has been “notoriously known for being a food desert.”

However, efforts in recent years by the city and groups like Southeast Food Access are “redefining what a liquor store is looking like in the Bayview,” with healthier options more prominent in businesses that have agreed to overhaul their store layout.

Similar changes are also starting in the Tenderloin, where there are currently more than 70 corner stores but not a single full-service grocery store, according to Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents that neighborhood and is also co-sponsoring the legislation.

“All of us deserve to live in healthy neighborhoods,” Kim said.

The board committee unanimously recommended approval the ordinance, which will now go to the full board for consideration.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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