What You Should Know
By Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz
District 18, Bronx County
You should know that I have submitted a Memo to New York State’s Congressional Delegation asking that in the next and any successive Federal Stimulus bills, they will provide for a grant to benefit New York City’s 13,000 local neighborhood groceries, the so-called iconic Bodegas.
My idea is simple but significant. It will provide funds to allow these stores to buy refrigerator units which can store fresh vegetables and produce that will be sold in the community. I have also asked for a separate Congressional grant to be available to these bodegas in order to pay for their increased costs of Con Ed.
In addition, I have requested that the US Congress restore funding for an initiative, the Healthy Bodega Campaign, which was very successful in 2015.
In 2015, this million-dollar grant allowed for the funding of 70 separate Bronx groups which in turn worked directly with bodegas within their areas to expand food purchases and provide for other healthy choices.
In reauthorizing this funding, the guidelines could include linking the upstate farmers’ markets directly with these local stores. This would be a win-win for stores, growers and residents.
It is important for you to know that in New York City, there already exists program called Healthy Bodega Bucks, which actually does just this. Federal money could greatly expand it, especially now in this crisis with most of the NYC restaurants closed. Our bodegas are a great alternate source of sales for the farmers upstate.
My dear reader, New York City’s government will need to do its part as well.
I have also submitted a Legislative Request to the New York City Council that would direct that various City agencies such as the Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Small Business Services. This request can provide a framework allowing for food producers, many of whom are now destroying their crops, to direct access for sales beyond the established farmers’ markets to these 13,000 city bodegas.
Ladies and gentlemen, the final part of my request is directed to New York State government that must act now to expand the use of SNAP for purchases made within NYC’s bodegas.
For more information about this initiative please contact my attorney Christopher R. Lynn at 917-385-0368.
I am Councilman Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.