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Fresh produce comes to York neighborhood corner stores

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YORK, Pa. -- A trip to the supermarket is not always convenient for those without their own transportation.

The York City Bureau of Health has a plan to bring grocery shopping closer to home.

For those who don't have a car, a neighborhood corner store may be a convenient place to pick up a few things. It also means the choices for healthy fresh foods may be limited.

There's now something new in store at Lee's Food Market in York.

Lee's Food Market owner Sangwoo Lee said "we have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh food."

A newly delivered refrigerator, stocked with produce is part of a York City corner store initiative, to bring fresh food closer to home, in some neighborhoods.

York City Bureau of Health community health services supervisor Craig Walt said "several census tracks within the city are what you would call a food desert, so there's very low access to grocery stores."

"They've wanted to offer healthier items, but maybe lacked the refrigeration or the space to do so, or not knowing where to get the foods from," Walt said.

Getting some green from the state may help.

"From the Pennsylvania Department of Health, actually specifically from the Preventive Health and Health Services Block grant, so we manage those funds, and work with the store owners to make sure that they're used appropriately," Walt said.

The plan includes connecting corner stores with places like York Fresh Food Farms, located just a few blocks away from Lee's Market.

York Fresh Food Farms farm manager Bruce Manns said "basically what we're doing here, growing it in the city, were able to distribute it in the quantities necessary. The beauty of all this, is this is organically grown here."

Some may wonder but if they grow it, will people buy it.

"What people are buying or purchasing is what's available to them, typically that's canned, maybe dried pastas, canned vegetables, if they do buy them they're preserved with salt," Manns said.

The hope is to not only change minds and habits, but improve diets.

"It's not just education, there's a nutrition component to to all this, i.e. its flavorful and it's very healthy for you," Manns said.

"All the reactions we got from store customers was that they would like to see more fresh and healthy foods in the stores, so it's really just doing what we can to help increase that," Walt said.

The York Bureau of Health plans to partner with five stores. It could expand the program if it gets more funds.

Other interested corner store owners should contact the city.

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