‘Healthy Corner Store’ launches in Glen Cove


Shoppers in Glen Cove have more healthy options while visiting La Placita Supermarket on Glen Street, thanks to a new initiative launched last week. On Friday, a Healthy Corner Store kickoff event took place to bring awareness to the program, which is sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Kohl’s Keeping Kids Healthy program.

“We are a sustainability organization focused on four key areas on Long Island,” Vanessa Lockel, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, said, noting that the focus areas are agriculture, marine, community education, and 4H youth development.

“It’s through programs like SNAP education,” Lockel said, “where we support businesses and show we’re offering healthy options in the community.” She said the organization makes sure that when people walk into a supermarket where there’s a “food desert,” they see fruits, vegetables, water and other healthy food options.

Dr. Zahrine Bajwa, director of community education for CCE, explained that the SNAP education program is for all of Long Island. “Glen Cove is not new to us. We have worked with the school district and the after-school program,” she said, adding that they have stores in Roosevelt and in Suffolk County. “The goal of SNAP education – a USDA federally funded program – is to make people healthy. But you can’t just teach people to change their behavior when the environment is not supporting it. One of the factors that is very important is that there is a place for people to find healthy choices. That is the reason making these changes in the ‘corner store’ is extremely important.”

Cynthia Rogers, who was at the news conference on behalf of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, said she used to run the food pantry for the Glen Cove Youth Bureau, and knows that families appreciate fresh produce, which is not always available. “Your education and efforts to help the community have access to something that they need is appreciated,” Rogers said.

“We’re happy to be here to support local businesses,” said Amy Flores, executive director, Nassau County of Hispanic Affairs, “and most importantly making sure that all of our families have their health in place and are feeding their families healthy and nutritious meals.”

The county office has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Brava/La Placita to help make sure people are aware of and have access to the government resources available, according to Flores.

La Placita opened in October 2012 and underwent renovations in 2018. Store manager Sal Diaz said he worked with the team from CCE to prepare the store for this initiative.

“We do have health issues in our community, and any way I can help our community, I’m more than willing,” Diaz said. “We help them, and they’re supporting us. I’m very grateful to Glen Cove. They’ve been more than supportive, and programs like this are very important, and they motivate people and push them to do better. The team from Cornell did a great job putting out pamphlets and signs, so people do ask about it. And when they ask about it, it opens up to conversation.”

“Sal is such an advocate for the community,” Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews said. “Any time the community has needed support, you can always count on Sal. It’s no surprise to me that Sal is joining together with other organizations to make a true difference in our community, and that’s what brings healthy habits and healthy eating to our city.”