Rochester’s Healthy ROC Grocer program debuts

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Twenty-four grocers are now part of the city of Rochester’s Healthy ROC Grocer program.

The program, which identifies and increases awareness of small grocers that offer nutritious foods in city neighborhoods, launched this week.

“I’m proud of small grocers across the city who serve their neighborhoods with healthier food choices and not simply stock junk food and sodas with little to no nutritional value,” says Mayor Malik Evans. “We have identified a number of small shops that are supporting their communities with quality foods and sometimes hard-to-find ethnic options. We know there are more out there, and we are excited to hear from others who want to get involved.” 

Qualified stores are those that offer healthy foods from a mix of FDA-recognized food groups. These grocers are easily accessible in the city and offer items for regular shopping and last-minute ingredients for a meal.

Empire Meats, for instance, offers vegetables, dairy products, and meats at three locations across the city. 

“We are excited to be a part of the Healthy ROC Grocer program and take advantage of everything it offers,” says Shannon Rowe, who owns the business with Kevin Rowe. “We do everything we can to serve our customers healthy delicious options for any meal. When you’re in any of our stores, you’re in our home.” 

Others on the list include Abundance Food Co-op and Highland Market on South Avenue, D&L Tropical Groceries on Genesee Street and Alba’s Market on Dewey Avenue.

To participate, stores must pass an evaluation of their healthier food options; have no federal, state, or city violations; and promise to use the free point-of-sale items provided by the city only for displays of nutritious foods, city officials say. 

Stores will continue to be accepted on an ongoing basis. The benefits of participating include a free media campaign inviting shoppers to stop at a Healthy ROC Grocer. 

Over the years, activists have pointed to the fact that the city doesn’t adequately serve residents’ needs when it comes to easy access to nutritious food. The Healthy ROC Grocer program could be one step toward an equitable food system, a necessary element of a healthy community.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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