Baltimore City Health Department Announces New Funding to Improve Healthy Food Access

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Funding supports access for citizens living in food deserts

BALTIMORE, MD (July 18, 2017)— The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) has received a two year, $150,000 grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) to support the department’s Baltimarket Healthy Stores Program. The funding will be used to grow the program by 40 corner stores over a two year period and to hire 40 young people as nutrition educators. Stores will receive advertising materials for healthy foods and trainings about how to select and store healthy foods.

“It is imperative that our citizens have as many choices as possible to improve their health,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “This important support from CHRC will help our local business owners to expand their business, train our young people for future careers, and lower the food disparities in our city.”

The program began in 2014 thanks to a grant from the Community Health Resources Commission to encourage local stores to provide healthy options for citizens living in food deserts. Currently, 17 stores participate in the program.

“As an emergency physician, I see patients who come to me with complications of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. I can counsel them on the importance of making healthy food choices, but we also must make these options available—something that is difficult for the one in four Baltimoreans who lack access to healthy food,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “All of our residents deserve to be healthy. This is an issue of health and justice, and the funding to increase healthy options in corner stores will move us closer to that goal.”

In coordination with multiple partners, the Baltimore City Health Department oversees a number of programs that promote nutrition knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy. The goals are to increase food security and access while tackling systemic inequities in order to affect the diet, and ultimately health of food desert residents. In addition to the Baltimarket Healthy Stores Program, BCHD projects include the Virtual Supermarket Program and the Neighborhood Food Advocates initiative.

“The Baltimarket programs offers an innovative and effective way to increase access to fresh and healthy food, one key social determinant that impacts health” said Surina A. Jordan, CHRC Commissioner. “The Commission is thrilled to support the continued growth of this worthwhile program. The Baltimarket program is one of 12 grants totaling $2.1 million awarded by the CHRC that addresses obesity prevention and promote food security.  These grants have supported programs in rural, urban and suburban areas of the state.”  

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