Article co-authored by The Food Trust, published in Preventing Chronic Disease:
Urban corner store interventions have been implemented to improve access to and promote purchase of healthy foods. However, the perspectives of store owners and managers, who deliver and shape these interventions in collaboration with nonprofit, government, and academic partners, have been largely overlooked. We sought to explore the views of store owners and managers on the role of their stores in the community and their beliefs about health problems and solutions in the community.
The Food Trust has launched an 8-week-long Summer Research Institute (SRI) running from June 14 through August 4.
This year’s Institute will focus on collecting data about food behaviors and food access, particularly how far residents travel to corner stores, grocery stores and farmers markets.
SRI participants work with The Food Trust's Research & Evaluation team and in small groups for field work. They also participate in weekly in-office trainings on a range of evaluation topics such as evaluation planning; research and evaluation ethics; quantitative, qualitative and geospatial research methods; data collection strategies for surveys, interviews and observations; data management, analysis and reporting; and presentation skills.
...when millions of Americas rely on convenience stores as their primary grocery, offering more nutritious options becomes a public health imperative.
Several programs around the country are trying to do just that -- putting up the cash so convenience store owners can remodel, showcasing healthy food up front and relegating the sodas and Ding Dongs to the back.
"Right when you come in the door we've got veggies, fruits, whole grain cereals," said Clara Olivares, owner of Olivares Food Market near downtown Philadelphia. "We wanted to offer more choices to our customers, and for the community to get healthier."
Refurbishing stores: In 2012, Olivares signed up for a program run by The Food Trust, a regional advocacy group that gets funding from a variety of public and private sources. The Food Trust provided money and expertise, sprucing up her store with a new refrigerated display case, awning, vegetable kiosk, as well as signs throughout directing customers to the healthy eats.
The Trust provides training on how to handle fresh produce -- such as not storing the bananas next to the apples, as apples give off ethylene, which rots the bananas. There's tricks on how to sell produce, like never letting just a few pieces of fruit linger at the bottom of a big box, as well as training with ordering and book keeping.
Since partnering with Philadelphia's health department in 2010, the Trust has done varying degrees of renovations on over 200 stores. A full-on conversion like Olivares' cost about $60,000.
The Layman Award was established by the Philadelphia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to honor an individual or group who has provided significant contributions to the fields of Health Education and Physical Education who are not members of the profession.
Learn more about The Food Trust's HYPE program here
Dwayne Wharton, Director of External Affairs at The Food Trust, also serves as the President of Seybert Foundation, a 100-year-old philanthropic foundation that makes grants in the amount of $300,000 per year to benefit disadvantaged youth in Philadelphia. As President, he has led a tremendous effort in recruitment of board members from ethnic and racial minority backgrounds.
One nominee said, “Dwayne Wharton is a shining example of a man who grew up in Philadelphia and who now gives back to the community. He is open-minded and visionary, taking people for "who they are" and not stereotyping them, and he has a great talent for detecting leadership ability in others, especially in people of color or from minority populations, and works to promote those leaders in ways that ultimately benefit not just the individuals but their community.”
Finally, a little good news concerning the nation’s rising obesity rates: rates among children in some cities and states are starting to drop.
What’s behind the success? Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group says there is a pattern among the cities with the most significant declines. Most are implementing multiple, comprehensive programs that target both schools and communities by upping the availability of healthier foods and encouraging more physical activity and educational opportunities.
That includes tapping into as many different venues where people eat and buy food as possible. For instance, since 1992 Philadelphia has worked with The Food Trust to help corner stores fill their shelves with fresher foods, bring better food to under-served markets, connect schools and farms and require acceptance of food stamps at farmer’s markets.
Corner stores — often thought of as a source of unhealthy foods — can be key partners in the effort to improve access to healthy, affordable foods. Evaluation by The Food Trust and Econsult Corporation has shown that the corner stores in Philadelphia that have introduced healthier produce to store shelves have resulted in healthier choices, healthier businesses and healthier communities.
Blog post from Rhea May, Fairmount Ventures
The Food Trust has worked tirelessly over the past twenty years to ensure access to healthy and affordable food for everyone. In Philadelphia, where food deserts are depressingly common and even part of our city was named the second hungriest district in the nation in 2010, assuring access to this basic human necessity can be grim work indeed. But rather than merely being a mouthpiece to these depressing statistics or shaming the public into taking action against this atrocity, The Food Trust takes a different approach to engaging the public. As anyone who’s been to Night Market can attest, they make food a celebration – and they make sure that everyone’s in on the party.
With high hopes of more to come, Mayor Annise Parker, Council Members Stephen Costello and Dwight Boykins, the Houston Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and others broke ground on the first project to target a Houston food desert. With financial assistance from the city, Pyburn’s owner John Vuong is building a first-class grocery store to serve South Union and surrounding neighborhoods. The store is scheduled to open the first quarter of 2015.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to purchase healthy food for their family,” said Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Food Trust. “We applaud this initiative by the City of Houston to increase access to grocery stores in underserved areas,” Lehmann said.
The City is providing a performance-based loan of $1.7 million for predevelopment, land acquisition, construction and equipment. The total project cost is estimated to be $3.7 million. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds awarded to the Houston Redevelopment Authority for economic development projects will be used for the project. Funding is available for additional projects and HRA will work with potential partners on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility for building or revitalizing grocery stores in food desert areas.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that following his effort, Philadelphia’s Food Trust has been awarded a $150,000 grant that will allow the successful Night Markets food truck events to continue. The Night Markets have brought food trucks to neighborhoods across Philadelphia- showcasing the city’s entrepreneurs and stimulating economic activity in local communities. With the food truck industry growing in the city, the Night Markets have had an $11 million impact on the city’s economy.
From the Philadelphia Business Journal:
"It looks like more Night Markets are on the horizon in the city as the Department of Commerce announced that a series of grants were awarded in support of the Food Trust Night Markets as well as the commercial corridor enhancement in Philadelphia."
First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia to discuss federal funding for a Healthy Food Financing Initiative which will increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved urban and rural communities, particularly through the development of grocery stores and other healthy food retailers.
"...And I have to finally thank a few others: the Food Trust. (Applause.) The Reinvestment Fund. (Applause.) And the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. (Applause.) You all have done extraordinary and some could say revolutionary work here in this city. And as you all have said consistently, you couldn't do it without each other. That has been the resonating message. So you all should be very proud to be highlighted here today for the work that you've done. It's really groundbreaking, and hopefully will set the tone for what we can do throughout the country."
A new study published in Preventive Medicine found that The Food Trust's corner store interventions aimed at increasing healthy food availability are associated with improvements in the availability of low-fat milk, fruits, and some vegetables, especially when infrastructure changes, such as refrigeration and shelving enhancements, are offered.
"...if you find yourself visiting Philly during the more tender months of the year, Headhouse is one of the best places for eaters, bar none. Exceptional locally-grown fruits and vegetables, pastured meats, sustainable seafood, excellent cheese, chocolate, there is so much inspiration to be found in the stalls of this historic marketplace. Stop for a cup of Bodhi coffee or a cup from Philly Fair Trade Roasters, pick up a Market Day Canele, and stroll the stalls."
Headhouse Farmers' Market re-opens May 4, 2014.
From the Times-Picayune:
Over the past eight years, one question repeated all over town kept Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Boudreaux going in his fight to reopen the landmark 7th Ward grocery.
"They'd always ask me, 'When? When? When will Circle Foods open?" Boudreaux told a crowd gathered outside the store Friday.
"We weren't going to let anything get us down," he said.
[With help from the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, a partnership of the City of New Orleans, HOPE Enterprises and The Food Trust], Boudreaux officially opened the doors of the store, surrounded by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, other city leaders, and bankers and developers who helped finance the $8 million renovation. A waiting line of customers, grocery carts in hand, snaked around the circular building.