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New Bedford, Massachusetts Launches Healthy Market Initiative

In the Let’s Move! City of New Bedford, Massachusetts residents don’t have reliable transportation to supermarkets, which limits their access to healthy food options. Instead, for their grocery purchases, many of New Bedford’s 95,000 residents often rely on local corner stores that offer limited healthy choices.

To address this concern, New Bedford’s Mayor, Jonathon Mitchell and his team adopted the statewide Mass in Motion Healthy Market Initiative, led by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

New Bedford, MA Mayor Jonathon Mitchell stands with owners/managers at the Mass in Motion Healthy Markets launch.

Over several months, a volunteer group of local dieticians identified corner and convenience stores that are located at least half a mile from a larger supermarket and are in close proximity to schools, neighborhoods, and local businesses. The team of dieticians, the Healthy Markets Task Force, worked with the owners to meet the Healthy Markets guidelines which included stocking at least:

  • two types of fruits and vegetables
  • three types of healthy cereals and grains
  • healthy beverages such as water, 100% fruit/vegetable juice and low-fat milk
  • five healthy snacks
  • fruit/nutrition bars, and trail mix bars

As part of this initiative, corner and convenience stores must promote the nutritious items by placing them near the store entrance or cash register; designating a “healthy food zone;” clearly marking prices on produce and healthy options, and reducing the promotion of unhealthy items.

To date, five local corner stores including Amaral’s Market, have signed onto this initiative, bringing healthy options to five different neighborhoods in New Bedford.  Alex Magalhaes, manager of Amaral’s Market, said, “we saw benefit in this initiative because it promotes our products and is good for the community.” Mr. Magalhaes called the program both a “no brainer” and a “win-win” for his store and the community. 

The Healthy Market Initiative is successful because of the commitment and support of volunteers, city departments, officials, and local proprietors. “Families rely on these corner stores,” Kim Ferreira, Mass in Motion Coordinator said. “We want to make sure parents know they are not just a convenient place to get a single item, but somewhere you could go to put together a healthy meal for the whole family. We hope to get several more local grocers to become Healthy Markets in the coming months and improve access to healthy, affordable foods for everyone in our community.” 

Learn more about the Mass in Motion Healthy Market Initiative, here. And learn more about Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties and how to become involved with the initiative here.