Jamaica Businesses Making Healthy Choices


New program seeks to increase healthy options at local businesses.
Photo by Jordan Gibbons.


Residents and employees in downtown Jamaica and St. Albans can now take advantage of healthier eating options at local businesses thanks to a collaboration of community leaders and organizations.

There are 18 establishments that have taken on the Jamaica Healthy Business Challenge organized by The Partnership for a Healthier Queens at Make the Road New York. These stores have agreed to meet at least three healthy business steps to be named as a healthy business.

The organizations that have helped to reach out to business owners and guide the initiative include the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District, Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, Cornell Cooperative Extension Services, the Catholic Charities and Public Health Solutions WIC Centers and the First Presbyterian Church of St. Albans.

The recommended choices represent some of the top changes that individuals can make to prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Simone Price, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, said that the promotion of healthy food will be beneficial to the entire community in Jamaica.

“Jamaica, Queens is still classified as a food desert,” Price said. “We’re excited about this program and the organized efforts to improve the healthy options available in the community.”

Tyra Emerson, executive director of Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, points out the signs given by the program for healthy specials. Photo by Jordan Gibbons.

Tyra Emerson, executive director of Cultural Collaborative Jamaica, points out the signs given by the program for healthy specials. Photo by Jordan Gibbons.

The initiative aims to reduce fried foods and improve the placement and promotion of healthy products or menu items, including healthy lunch and snack combos.

Businesses who have complied have made changes such as moving fresh fruit onto the counter next to the register, stocking healthy snacks near the entrance and selling baked potato chips. The Partnership for a Healthier Queens provides each business with signs promoting the options outside the store and on the counter where food orders are made.

Tyra Emerson, executive director of CCJ, said that they started the process around six months ago.

“The initial step was to ask stores and delis that were interested,” Emerson said. “We went back and came up with the ideas and then we came back to check that they had done it.”

The office of CCJ is directly upstairs from one of the businesses involved, Deli and Grocery on 161st Street, and Emerson said she frequents the deli often.

“Everyday I started to see that they were doing it and I started getting very excited,” she said.

The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not only focused on healthy eating, but also active living, tobacco-free environments and reducing underage and excessive alcohol consumption.

Dahlia Goldenberg, project coordinator at The Partnership for a Healthier Queens, said she was impressed by some of the business owners who were anxious to move some of their unhealthy products towards the back and promote water, fruits and vegetables.

“All of this is in the name of preventing chronic disease,” Goldenberg said. “It’s also about reducing the unhealthy advertising.”

Andrea Blair-Dawson, regional coordinator at Cornell University Cooperative Extension, said they got involved by doing workshops in the community to increase awareness of the possibilities for healthier living.

“We became apart of this with Make the Road New York to get the word out about making healthier options,” she said. “We know that it’s going to take businesses and governments to get involved to address this issue.”

For a list of participating businesses, visit queenspress.com.

Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, jgibbons@queenspress.com or @jgibbons2.

Where To Shop Healthy In Jamaica:

Near Parsons Boulevard between Hillside and Jamaica Avenue
Deli and Grocery, 89-31 161st St.
Villa Mar, 89-20 163rd St.
Genesis, 162-23 Hillside Ave.
Burgundy’s Café, 153-35 Hillside Ave.
Jennifer’s Restaurant, 153-41 Hillside Ave.
Los Rancheros, 162-10 Jamaica Ave.

Jamaica Market, 159-15 Jamaica Ave.
Rosy’s Newstand
Best Food Salad Bar

Sutphin Boulevard between Archer and Hillside
Finest Deli, 90-50 Sutphin Blvd.
Four Star Grocery, 87-78 Sutphin Blvd.
Well Being Fish and Deli, 90-71 Sutphin Blvd. Parsons Boulevard north of Hillside
Jarul Mini Market, 87-22 Parsons Blvd.
Smile of the Beyond Restaurant, 86-14 Parsons Blvd.
Guru Health Foods, 86-02 Parsons Blvd.

St. Albans
Teriyaki Deli and Grill, 201-15 Linden Blvd.
Laten’s Place, 119-08 Merrick Blvd.
ABC Book and Health Store, 115-50 Merrick Blvd.
Deli and Grocery, 117-06 Merrick Blvd.

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