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.
Food drives are big during the winter months: Around the holidays, it has become a tradition to pitch in and help those in need. While these efforts are certainly important and impactful, food insecurity doesn’t go away come January.
More than 900,000 New Jersey residents rely on food banks to feed their families, and it’s estimated that nearly 10 percent of the state’s population lives in areas that lack ready access to stores that sell healthy, affordable foods.
The impact of hunger is exacerbated in low-income communities by the lack of access to stores that provide good-quality, healthy food like fresh produce. Residents living in these areas are forced to buy what’s available, not necessarily what’s healthy, negatively impacting their health and well-being.
Numerous studies show that obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases are disproportionately higher in neighborhoods where residents lack access to nutritious foods. And these areas are also cut off from the economic benefits that accompany anchor supermarkets: steady jobs, increased property values and additional retail investment.
While the need for more supermarkets in New Jersey is clear, New Jersey also has an estimated 5,600 corner stores and bodegas around the state, making small retailers an efficient and cost-effective infrastructure to increase fresh, nutritious food options.
The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative — a joint partnership of The Food Trust, American Heart Association and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance — is beginning to make headway, using these existing stores to improve access to healthy food by working with corner-store owners to help them profitably stock, market and sell nutritious, affordable food items to their customers.
Through the initiative, community partners provide retailers the tools they need to dedicate more shelf space to fresh foods and place signs and labels around the store that help their customers recognize healthier choices. The program is helping turn these stores into greater community resources, yielding impressive results in both improving healthy food access and generating new local jobs.
Legislation is pending in Trenton — the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act (A4505/S3043) — that would create a state fund enabling the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store program to be expanded statewide. I encourage the Legislature and governor to act swiftly on this legislation.
All New Jerseyans deserve access to nutritious foods in their communities during the holidays and all throughout the year.
John Weidman is deputy executive director of The Food Trust.
The New York Times
Taped on the glass refrigerator doors were signs warning customers about the calories contained in the products inside. “Did you know it takes 65 minutes of dancing to work off a bottle of soda?” one said. The signs are part of the healthy corner store initiative sponsored by the Food Trust, a local nonprofit that works to promote nutritious food and coordinates closely with the city. (“Choose water!” urged another, handwritten sign.)
Many urban residents do their shopping in corner stores, and the Food Trust certifies stores, helping them find and sell healthier foods.
“We don’t do much with campaigns to decrease soda,” said John Weidman, the organization’s deputy executive director. “These guys have such small profit margins that you have to couch everything in terms of, ‘This will help your bottom line.’ ” In other words, the organization doesn’t urge stores to stop selling soda. Instead, he said, the goal is to nudge customers toward healthier options, like water and low-fat milk. “It’s mostly about getting them to try healthier alternatives,” he said.
Almost a quarter million people are eating healthier, thanks to one innovative idea. (via NationSwell)
The Food Trust of Philadelphia, one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in one of America’s poorest and most unhealthy big cities, began in a public housing development in South Philly, with volunteers piling mounds of fruits and veggies on one long table outside the project each week. Since 1992, they’ve taken their work beyond that first farmer’s market, improving access to healthy food and nutritional information for nearly 220,000 residents in poor neighborhoods — making Philadelphia one of the first cities to meet the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” challenge to eliminate food deserts entirely by 2017.
“We started to see that farmer’s markets provide seasonal access to fresh fruits and vegetables, not a long-term solution — or the only solution. They really only can open in summer on the East Coast. We realized it was really important to look at the longer term and more comprehensive approaches to food access,” says Candace Young, spokesperson for the nonprofit. Around 2004, “the first thing we did was we mapped out areas of the city that had low access to supermarkets and high-diet related deaths — the pockets of the city that needed better access. We sent that report to policy makers and practitioners, the health community and its advocates, the food retail community. What was built from there was this multi-million dollar public-private initiative to build new or even just renovate supermarkets around the whole state.”
Read more here.
...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.
Young Leaders for a Healthier Generation
GSK and The Philadelphia Foundation announced the award of a three-year, $5 million charitable grant to Get HYPE Philly!, a collective of 10 nonprofits headed by The Food Trust. Working together, the nonprofits will focus on enabling Philadelphia teens to eat healthy, exercise and build healthier communities. The grant is from a fund established by GSK in 2011 to benefit young people in the City of Philadelphia, and is administered by The Philadelphia Foundation.
For more information visit: gethypephilly.org
Celebrating Progress, Accelerating Change
Helping all children grow up at a healthy weight is an integral part of building a Culture of Health in every community across the United States. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will commit $500 million over the next 10 years to expand efforts to ensure that all children in the United States—no matter who they are or where they live―can grow up at a healthy weight. Together we have been able to put childhood obesity on the map as an urgent, national priority. Now there are signs we’re turning the tides on childhood obesity rates in younger children. These signs of progress are happening in schools and communities across the nation.
Video features President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, former Let's Move Executive Director Sam Kass, Executive Director of The Food Trust Yael Lehmann, and others.
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.
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.
A new pilot program in Philadelphia aims to help improve people's health by setting up inside local corner grocery stores.
"I can think of no better place than a corner store in the neighborhood, unannounced, where folks come to have a nice conversation in a place they are comfortable with," said Dr. Jim Plumb, Jefferson Center for Urban Health.
From the NRDC
April 3, 2013 -- The Natural Resources Defense Council announced the winners of the 2013 Growing Green Awards. These awards celebrate the farmers, business owners, and bold thinkers who are transforming America’s food system. Each one of them has pioneered ways to provide food that nourishes our families and restores our environment at the same time.
The Food Trust's Brianna Almaguer Sandoval won the Young Food Leader Award. She noticed how hard it was to find fresh, healthy food in Philadelphia’s urban communities. Instead of sending people far afield in search of fruits and vegetables, she decided to bring good food to the place people already go: the local corner store. She helped launch The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative to offer store owners the education, tools and financial support they need to stock fresh produce.
January 5, 2013 -- It's an extreme makeover, let's call it the "convenient store edition."
"We're trying to make fresh produce more accessible and visible to customers," said Nora Hoeft, a health specialist with the city of Minneapolis.
The initiative is called The Corner Store Project, an effort to make sure healthy foods and snacks are visible, accessible, and affordable at convenient stores across the city.