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    New York City Convenience Stores Becoming Fresher

    Healthy Bodegas plan allows for more c-stores to sell fruits and vegetables in 'food deserts.'

    NEW YORK -- The aisles of New York City bodegas and convenience stores are becoming much fresher.

    Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant, which many consider to be "food desert" neighborhoods of the city, have seen several independent c-stores receive fresh food and vegetables, reported the Columbia Spectator.

    The initiative, called Healthy Bodegas, which is under the auspices of non-profit group Grow NYC, is designed to provide New York City residents with access to affordably priced, locally grown produce at the stores where they already shop.

    Healthy Bodegas has spearheaded an effort to install refrigeration units at 11 stores, according to the non-profit group's website. The goal is to get New Yorkers to eat healthier foods.

    "The installation of refrigerators featuring exclusively farm fresh products in participating stores will expand the floor space designated for healthy foods and maximize the display of local products," Grow NYC said on its website. "The refrigerators will be branded by Greenmarket and Red Jacket Orchards to endorse a healthier option alongside the coolers put in place by corporations who sell soft drinks, alcohol, and junk food in highly-trafficked neighborhood shops."

    The site added that Healthy Bodegas also hopes to educate shop owners on food handling and sustainable agriculture.

    Fresh Mini Market owner Tineo Roque told the Columbia Spectator that the response has been good thus far at his Harlem store.

    "I got more variety," the news source. "Now [fruits and vegetables are] selling more."

    Roque added there is another benefit to the refrigeration unit as fruit juices are also selling well.

    Harlem customers enjoy more variety at convenience stores as well. One Harlem resident told the news outlet that fruits and vegetables are in demand. "We all want to eat healthy," the unnamed resident said. "It's the hot thing right now." According to the Columbia Spectator, the refrigeration units were funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

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