Supervisor Eric Mar wants healthier food options in San Francisco

S.F. Examiner File PhotoA proposal by Supervisor Eric Mar would provide incentives to stores that carry healthier food items.

Perhaps best known for his ban on toys in Happy Meals, Supervisor Eric Mar is once again working to persuade people to eat healthier food.

On Tuesday, Mar introduced legislation that would establish what he is calling a Healthy Food Retailer Incentives Program, which would be administered by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The proposal takes aim at a long-standing challenge in San Francisco to ensure there are an adequate number of grocery stores, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

For example, a 2011 analysis of 19 corner stores in the Bayview-Hunters Point area found that only 20 percent of the stores stocked a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, only 11 percent stocked whole-grain bread and only 37 percent offered low-fat milk, according to the legislation.

Just how much of an impact this legislation would have is unclear. The program would ensure The City focuses attention on promoting and assisting stores that meet the criteria of being a “healthy food retailer.” That includes at least 35 percent of the selling area containing fresh produce and no more than 20 percent of the area having tobacco or alcohol for sale. The program would analyze what areas are most in need of healthier food choices and figure out how to attract purveyors to those areas.

The proposal calls for the creation of a “one-stop-shop” by July 1 for anyone looking to become a healthy food retailer. And by fiscal year 2013-14, the proposal calls for at least one full-time city worker heading the program.

“The purpose of this legislation is to increase access to healthy food [and] reduce unhealthy influences,” Mar said.

“We are doing this by providing incentives for existing corner stores and mom-and-pop stores to change their business plans.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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