The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) praised the announcement by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to enhance access to the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program for retailers, while also removing policy barriers for WIC customers.
“We are pleased that grocery stores, bodegas and other food retailers can now begin the application process online to become WIC retailers without restrictions allowing more families to have access to healthier foods close to home,” said Linda Doherty, NJFC president.
Doherty added the NJFC lauds the work of state Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett, who has made this project one of her last significant accomplishments before she leaves the department.
“Through her work, thousands of families across New Jersey will have greater access to healthy, nutritious foods through a larger number of authorized retailers. There are currently about 900 WIC retailers in New Jersey, and access means more options and purchasing power for WIC customers and cost containment for WIC agencies,” said Doherty.
The NJFC has been a staunch supporter for more WIC retailers so that customers can redeem food assistance benefits closer to home. The new regulations modernize a system that for years would require retailers to be placed on a three-year waiting list in hopes of being granted WIC authorization.
“This is an unnecessary hurdle for retailers and hurts WIC customers. In today’s modernized marketplace, a three-year wait for consideration is unrealistic and a detriment for food retailers to expand in food desert communities,” Doherty said.
Addeo joins NJFC staff
In other news, Matthew Addeo has joined NJFC as director of public affairs.
Addeo “has balanced experience in New Jersey politics, association management and food retail,” Doherty says.
Addeo served as deputy communications director for the recent Republican Gubernatorial Campaign. He holds a degree in political science from Monmouth University. Prior to his work on the gubernatorial campaign, he worked for Princeton Public Affairs Group and Dean’s Natural Food Market.
His political, communications and association management experience includes regulatory oversight, communicating with government agencies, grassroots organizing and campaign fundraising.
The New Jersey State Legislature is in its transitional lame duck period, and the new legislative session begins in January. Addeo will work with NJFC to continue its advocacy efforts on issues of critical importance to the food retail and distribution industry, including minimum wage, paid sick leave, date labeling and liquor licensing reform.
The NJFC represents more than 500 members serving the retail, wholesale and manufacturing segments of the New Jersey food distribution industry.