First staple foods ordinance in nation now setting stronger example for other cities

Today the City of Minneapolis approved important changes to an innovative 2008 staple foods ordinance, which will significantly increase the amount of healthy food options available in licensed grocery stores. Strengthening the ordinance will help ensure that all residents have access to healthy food options no matter where they shop. Limited access to healthy food contributes to poor nutrition and health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Residents in lower income neighborhoods and communities of color must often rely on non-traditional grocery stores such as corner stores, gas stations, dollar stores and pharmacies to meet their food needs, so it’s important for their families’ health that these stores offer nutritious food. Customer demand for better options is increasing, with more residents seeking out healthy, affordable, convenient food in their neighborhoods. Minneapolis is the only city in the U.S. to have staple food standards for licensed grocery stores, and these changes create a strong, comprehensive policy that can serve as a model for other cities seeking ways to protect and promote residents’ health.

The changes expand required staple food categories, set minimum quantities in each category, provide better quality standards for fresh produce and clarify which stores would be exempt. Changes will go into effect in April 2015, although enforcement will not start until 2016 in order to allow stores ample time to comply with the new standards. A comprehensive package of resources and technical assistance will be available to support Minneapolis business owners in meeting the requirements. Support will include educational materials, free trainings and supplies, access to low-interest equipment loans, connections to healthy food distributors and local farmers, and consultations from grocery merchandising experts. Grocery store owners will be invited to attend a general information session about the changes in December 2014, and additional information will be distributed to businesses early next year.

The staple foods ordinance is one part of a comprehensive approach to address limited access to healthy foods across the city. Government, schools, nonprofits, neighborhoods and hospitals are working to improve the availability of healthy foods and provide nutrition education to promote better health for all Minneapolis residents. The ordinance helps incorporate businesses as part of the solution to building a healthy, thriving city; it also supports the City’s health goal of focusing on the well-being of people and our environment.

 

Published Oct 31, 2014

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