By Devin Bartolotta

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–  The Baltimore City Health Department announced a $150,000 state grant to expand the “Baltimarket” program, making it easier for corner stores to carry healthy foods.

The new funds will provide credits, advertising and training to 40 more corner stores throughout the City to carry fresh fruits and vegetables.

This will bridge the gap for one in four Baltimoreans who live without easy access to healthy food.

“Baltimarket offers an innovative and effective way to increase access to fresh and healthy foods,” said Surina Ann Jordan with Maryland Community Health Resources.

“How can our patients eat well when they live in areas of food deserts? Where they have to go and take two buses or walk 25 blocks in order to get healthy fruits and vegetables,” said City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.

The inventory goes hand-and-hand with education; teaching customers that they can sub out unhealthy foods in their diet. The lessons come from hired youth ambassadors like high school senior Eva Wise.

“Some people were really surprised. They’re like, ‘wow, oh my gosh! They were like I need to change, I need to change,'” Wise said.

The lifestyle changes are now available at 17 healthy corner stores citywide. Within the next two years, more stores will have the healthier options also.

“When these guys who are low privilege have to use public transportation to go get things for their daily needs, why not offer them the same things when they’re coming to my store anyways?” said Shop & Go manager Dhrumil Patel.

The grant also will allow for the of hiring 40 new student nutrition educators to hold healthy food lessons outside of the corner stores.

Baltimarket is taking recommendations from the community on which stores should be part of the program expansion.

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