#b#Private Initiative For Retirement#/b#

In a recent Republican debate, Governor Christie spoke about the solar energy program in New Jersey. He made the point that it is an example of the approach he prefers: encouraging the private sector to solve problems rather than relying on government programs.

The Secure Choice program currently working its way through the state legislature takes the same approach. It enables New Jersey workers to save for their retirement through IRAs purchased from commercial financial institutions. Neither employers nor taxpayers fund these investments; they are entirely paid for by the employees themselves.

The Secure Choice program will enable many more New Jersey workers to retire comfortably and securely, potentially reducing the burden of paying for welfare programs by taxpayers. It is an excellent example of the approach championed by the governor. We in AARP urge Governor Christie to sign the Secure Choice legislation when it arrives at his desk.

Ken Lindhorst

AARP Member, Summit

#b#Healthy Food Choice Should Be Easy#/b#

Healthy food accessibility is an issue that affects thousands of New Jerseyans. Many rely on the local neighborhood store for groceries because a supermarket isn’t in close proximity. Unfortunately, many of these stores don’t carry healthy foods.

When fresh produce and healthy options aren’t available for purchase, families are forced to consume foods often loaded with saturated fat, high levels of sodium and poor nutrition. According to the American Heart Association, this kind of diet can lead to an increase in major health issues including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which in turn results in a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

The American Heart Association, YMCA, and Food Trust have joined together to champion the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act (S-3043/ A-4505). Now, thanks to the support of Senators Lesniak, Cruz-Perez, Whelan, and Oroho of the Senate Economic Growth Committee, this important legislation, which would create a structure to connect local store owners with resources to increase availability of healthy foods in corner stores, has passed the first hurdle towards becoming law in New Jersey.

Passing this legislation would help provide many New Jersey communities fresher, nutritious food options. It would help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Doesn’t the Garden State deserve that option?

Carol Gill MD

President, New Jersey American Heart Association

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