options in corner stores. If owners agree to display fresh
fruits and vegetables prominently in their stores, San
Francisco’s Healthy Retail SF program provides display
cases, shelving and refrigerators at no cost and teaches
customers how to prepare healthy meals.
“It is a very good idea,” Multani said. “I know it’s actually a positive response because I see more families now
and they started shopping for produce.”
“It used to be we were just like the image of a liquor store,
now we’re like the image of a grocery store,” he said.
From San Francisco’s immigrant-packed Tenderloin to the streets of Baltimore to the rocky coast of
eastern Maine, programs encouraging healthy food
conversions in corner and rural stores are spreading all
over the country.
The task is daunting. Karen Shore, director of consulting for The Food Trust, said millions of low-income
Americans buy a lot of the food they and their families eat at “hundreds of thousands” of corner and rural
stores lacking healthy food options. In large part, those
stores serve African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrant
groups and the rural poor.
Based in Philadelphia, The Food Trust is a nonprofit
dedicated to providing healthy food to all Americans.
It consults with healthy corner store and inner city
supermarket initiatives in 34 states, including Healthy
Joel Gittelson, a medical anthropologist at Johns Hopkins University, has studied healthy corner store and
Hundreds of thousands of
corner and rural stores lack
healthy food options.
bodega initiatives and concluded some have been quite
successful, but there is a long way to go.
“We’re five percent of the way,” he said.
In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gittelson studied 16 corner store
initiatives in locations ranging from Apache reservations
in Arizona to inner city Philadelphia and Baltimore.
“Our findings indicate consistent improvement across
most of the trials in availability and sale of healthy foods,
the purchase and consumption of those foods and consumer knowledge,” he said.
Underlying the healthy corner store movement are concerns about the impact of unhealthy diets on the health
of poor Americans. Advocates say both the urban and
rural poor, many of whom live below the federal poverty line, suffer high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart
disease attributed in large part to unhealthy diets.
Before and after the Daldas Grocery Grand Re-Opening event in May 2015.
Courtesy of Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
The Food Trust assists with healthy conversions
of general stores in low-income areas, such as
Washington and Hancock Counties, in rural Maine.