State & Local Policy Efforts
North Carolina Healthy Food Small Retailer Program
Since 2013, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and its members and partners have advocated for the creation of a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Members and partners include the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, North Carolina Alliance of YMCA’s, MomsRising, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, North Carolina Conservation Network, Youth Empowered Solutions, Self-Help Credit Union, North Carolina Dietetic Association, The Food Trust, and many more. The state budget passed in 2016 included $250,000 to pilot the initiative, formally known as the Healthy Food Small Retailer Program. The 2017 state budget included an additional $250,000 in funding. The program is housed in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The North Carolina Alliance for Health and partners continue to advocate for recurring funds for the program.
Background and Advocacy: North Carolina Alliance for Health
In the spring of 2013, in response to food access issues in her own district, Representative Yvonne Holley (D-Wake) introduced House Bill 957, Food Desert Zones, raising the level of awareness of food access issues with the Speaker of the House and other majority party lawmakers. This bill resulted in the House Committee on Food Desert Zones, which held four meetings between January and April 2014. Throughout the winter and early spring, the North Carolina Alliance for Health and partners worked extensively with the chairs of the Committee, Representatives Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell) and Chris Whitmire (R- Henderson, Polk, Transylvania), who later became a primary sponsor of HB 250, to develop agendas for the committee meetings. The House Study Committee on Food Desert Zones issued recommendations during its final meeting in April 2014.
On March 17, 2015, HB 250, Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act and companion bill SB 296 were filed. The primary sponsors of HB 250 were Representative Yvonne Holley (D-Wake), Chris Whitmire (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania), Brian Brown (R-Pitt), and Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth). The primary sponsors of HB 296 were Senators Don Davis (D-Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne) and Louis Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne). On June 18, 2015, HB 250 passed the full House by a vote of 82-32 and $1 million was included in the House’s version of the budget. Neither HB 250 nor SB 296 were considered by the Senate that year. However, on July 1, 2016, the NC General Assembly passed budget adjustments, which included $250,000 for the creation of a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative. On June 28, 2017, the General Assembly passed a new budget, which also included $250,000 for the program.