Study finds Reading lacks healthy food

READING, Pa. - When you walk down the streets of Reading, it is not hard to find a corner store, but Reading Health System employees say not enough of those corner stores have healthy options.

"Forty-one percent of city residents in the identified zip codes are living in poverty. In addition, Berks County has a low access of fresh grocery stores," said Stephanie Kuppersmith with Reading Health System.

The Community Health Department of Reading Health System began a study last fall to find out where people living in Reading can find enough fruits, vegetables and a variety of milk.

"Some of the issues they were facing were low or limited options of low fat milk. So that means that whole milk or 2% were the ones provided. When they were available, they were very costly so $5.20 a gallon which is normally around $3.43," said Kuppersmith.

People we spoke with in Reading say there is enough variety.

"Salad, apples, grapes, lunchmeat, you know stuff you can get on WIC for the kids like fruit juice and stuff like that. I think it is enough to get healthy food," said Kimberly Reber of Reading.

But some people say it is still too expensive.

"From what I have seen it has to do with some places having enough room or maybe the people having the money to pay for the products," said Rosita Lopez of Reading.

That is why the study made the recommendation that Reading Health System work with local store owners to provide more fresh produce and display it so more shoppers see it.

Kuppersmith says The Food Trust was awarded a federal grant to start that this summer.

They also want to educate Reading residents on nutrition and promote farmers markets.

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