Minneapolis program to aid local corner stores promote fresh produce and healthy foods

This fall, 10 corner stores throughout Minneapolis will celebrate the launch of a new effort to provide their customers with more healthy, fresh foods as part of the City of Minneapolis’ larger effort to combat obesity and chronic disease.  The celebrations will mark the official store redesigns and feature taste testing of fresh produce and food demos at each of the stores on specific dates in November and December. The 10 stores that are part of the Healthy Corner Store pilot project were selected through an application process.

The Healthy Corner Store Program centers on increasing the availability of fresh produce and healthy foods to residents who live in high-poverty pockets of the city. The program arose from an assessment the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support (MDHFS) staff made of 35 stores to determine availability and quality of fresh produce. Results showed that 36 percent of stores did not have any fresh produce in stock. In the other 64% of stores, produce was limited, expensive and often difficult to find in the store.

A separate survey of residents in North Minneapolis, conducted by Northpoint Health and Wellness, indicated that while convenience stores are easier to access than grocery stores, residents don’t buy produce there. The Healthy Corner Store Program is trying to change all that.

Working closely with the 10 store owners and managers, MDHFS staff identified barriers they had in stocking and selling fresh produce. To determine effectiveness of the effort, MDHFS will track the stores’ sales data of fresh produce for the duration of the project (June 30, 2011). The data will indicate if the program sustains or boosts store sales. If the project proves successful, City officials hope to expand it city wide. The project also helps stores comply with the City's Staple Foods Ordinance, which requires grocery stores to carry at least five types of perishable produce.

The Healthy Corner Store Program is just one way Minneapolis is working to improve health and the availability of produce. Homegrown Minneapolis is a citywide initiative to get people eating more healthy, sustainable food, which is often grown right here in Minneapolis. The program has evolved to develop recommendations and implement strategies to increase and improve the growing, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management of healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods in the city.

Read moreabout the Healthy Corner Store Program (doc) and the names and locations of the 10 stores that are part of this project.

Published Nov. 4, 2010