Fighting the Fast Food Nation
According to an article in Metro New York that was picked up by Eater.com, fast-food restaurants like McDonald's, White Castle and Dunkin' Donuts receive tens of thousands of dollars worth of benefits each year under New York City's Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program, effectively giving them tax breaks to move into low-income communities. The far-reaching program—meant to encourage economic development outside the 59th Street to 96th Street zone—goes beyond fast-food restaurants to a variety of projects, certainly; but given that obesity rates are higher in Central and East Harlem than in the rest of the city, it's important to point out the government's role in contributing to the problem.
One proposal that might offer some small-scale help for those seeking healthier food options is the city's proposed "Green Carts" program, which is similar to People's Grocery in West Oakland, California. If passed in the next few weeks, the bill would provide 1,500 new permits to street vendors who exclusively sell fresh fruits and vegetables—favoring vendors who'll operate in neighborhoods with the lowest consumption of greens. Considering there are only 400 such "green carts" in the entire city right now, the new ones would be a welcome addition, especially in areas that need them the most.