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June 01. 2012 9:13PM

Fifth market joins city's healthy food initiative

MANCHESTER — A West Side market has joined a month-old city effort to encourage the sales of healthy food in neighborhoods plagued with poverty and little access to large-scale supermarkets.

Bremer Street Food Mart is the fifth store to join Manchester Healthy Corner Stores/Tenemos Products Saludables, an initiative of the Manchester Health Department.

Store owner Suman Rayamajhi said he has purchased a produce case and is receiving advice from city-provided consultants on the best placement for healthy foods.

Rayamajhi, who is seeking a doctorate in international business, said he's trying to give something back to the community where he lives and works. He noted that an elementary school and the Kelley Falls public housing project are nearby.

“If I can do something good for the community, why can't I try?” he said.

In late April, the city launched the program at four center-city locations — R & E Grocery, Two Guys Food Market, Tropical Food Mart, and T and N Gas and Convenience.

The privately funded initiative promotes healthy foods such as produce, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and baked chips.

A logo has been developed for the program, which identifies participants and allows joint marketing. Stores offer taste testing once a month. And some stores received money for items such as displays and aesthetic improvements, including graffiti removal.

The West Side was outside the original target area, so Bremer Street Food Mart is not eligible for the individual store improvements, said Anna Thomas, deputy public health director for the city.

But it can host taste-testings and receive advice from consultants, Thomas said. It will also be able to participate in joint marketing efforts, which include signs that identify healthy food and school fliers touting the store for its participation in the program.

Thomas said she's pleased with the willingness of stores such as Bremer Street to sign up.

“They're all changes, it's incremental. They're willing to move in our direction,” she said.

This month, stores hosted taste tests featuring baked chips. In June, taste tests will feature trail mix.


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