Put The “Garden” Back In The Garden State

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`Food deserts’ are a major issue for an estimated 340,000 New Jersey residents who live in areas where fresh produce and other healthy food choices are not easily available. Area residents are left to fast-food and convenience products loaded with fat, sodium and little nutritional value, which can lead to serious health issues including obesity.

The Framingham Heart Study notes obese individuals are 104 percent more likely to develop heart failure as non-obese individuals. Even more alarming, NJ has the highest rate of low-income toddler obesity in the country with 18 percent of 2-5 years olds from low-income families considered obese. The obesity epidemic is at an all time high.

The American Heart Association recommends individuals consume at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily as part of a heart-healthy diet and is therefore urging legislators to support the New Jersey Fresh Mobiles initiative.

This initiative would establish a statewide mobile farmer’s market and low-income food voucher program with the goal to provide improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income residents in the state’s ‘food deserts.’

Thank you to the Assembly and members of Senate who support this initiative. It is my hope that the entire Senate and Governor will continue supporting this program into law.

Cardiovascular disease remains NJ’s leading cause of death, even though the American Heart Association notes that 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented if certain risk factors are controlled-including obesity.

We need to put the “garden” back in the “Garden State” to ensure all New Jerseyans have access to heart-healthy foods.

Joan Helfman, RN
American Heart Association-
American Stroke Association Board Member


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