For roughly three years now YES! and our partners have been working at a local and state level to get House Bill 250/Senate Bill 296 – also known as the Healthy Corner Store Bill- passed in North Carolina. The bill was asking for a $1 million appropriation in the state budget that corner stores across the state can access giving them the resources to carry healthy foods. We have been working towards the $1 million appropriation, but In the most recent short session an appropriation of $250,000 was signed into the state budget which is still a huge win for us.
Morgan Wittman Gramann, the Managing Director of one of our partners the North Carolina Alliance for Health, speaks for all of us when she says, “This is a great first step in setting up a program that will bring healthy food into food deserts across North Carolina and is the first time that state funds have been invested in a program of this kind.”
To gain this appropriation, YES! and our partners have done an extensive amount of advocacy work to get citizens and legislators on board with the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The main things we have done to advocate is our youth trainings and direct advocacy with policy makers.
YES! Staff have trained hundreds of youth on subjects such as obesity, food deserts, and corner stores in the hopes that those youth will go out and join us in our advocacy work- while continuing to provide support for them and their endeavors. Additionally, through forms of communication such as postcards, phone calls, emails, and direct conversation, YES! staff have advocated to legislators encouraging them to understand food access and vote for the Healthy Corner Store Bill. Along with those forms of advocacy, we have created photovoice campaigns, hosted legislative breakfasts, and work locally in community corner stores.
In the upcoming year the NC Alliance for Health will be working alongside the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Public Health to implement how the money will be applied for and used across the state. But, YES! and our partners aren’t going to quit working on this issue; in fact, we intend on continuing to advocate for the full $1 million in next year’s long session. All this work combined has culminated into a big win for the state of North Carolina and the 1.5 million citizens who live in food deserts that will benefit from their local corner stores having the resources to carry healthy and affordable food.