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Program To Bring Fresh Produce To 'Food Deserts' In San Francisco Appears To Be Working

KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- Another San Francisco corner store has renovated with an emphasis on fresh produce with help from a pilot program that aims to transform so-called 'food deserts.'

The grand re-opening of Palou Market on Third Street was a chance for Antonia Williams, born and raised in the Bayview, to see the work she does come to life.

She's with a group called HEAL Zone that tries to make healthy food more accessible to consumers, especially kids, in neighborhoods without many grocery stores.

"It's crazy to me these days that a 12-ounce soda costs more than a 2-litre, so I just encourage water – it stays the same price. I even go to schools and promote water education where we do smart water – so it's like pick whatever your favorite fruit is, put it in some water and enjoy that – it's less additives, and sugar," Williams told KCBS.

But, Mayor Ed Lee says in general, stores like Palou Market that have joined the Healthy Retail SF program sell more produce - and more overall—when they display fresh food up front.

"You can't just say, 'it should happen,' or you can't just criticize people for not having it. You've got to actually make it happen, and the way we've made it happen is through investment," Mayor Lee said.

Nine corner stores so far have received up to $20,000 apiece to devote more space to healthy food, and less to alcohol and tobacco.

Initial results show those store owners have increased their sales over the last two years.

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