By KATHY MATHESON
-Associated Press Wednesday, January 29, 201
Customer Alvaro Maduro, left, speaks with Maria Vanegas with The Food Trust
Mallya cautioned that it’s too early to know whether the marketing effort is affecting consumer buying habits. But early data from two top-tier stores shows produce sales up 50 percent and bottled water sales up 76 percent compared with lower-level stores, according to The Food Trust.
The city has invested about $1.5 million in the program since 2010. The Food Trust could not provide exact numbers on its budget; several foundations and government agencies have paid for various aspects of the initiative, which has expanded to Camden, N.J., and the Philadelphia suburbs of Norristown and Chester.
Similar, smaller-scale interventions at corner stores in Baltimore have been studied by Johns Hopkins University nutrition professor Joel Gittelsohn, who found significant increases in the purchase of healthy foods.
He said the ideal solution would be to put more supermarkets in these communities, which are sometimes referred to as food deserts.