Online Program

Engaging corner store owners to increase healthy food access in low-income suburban communities

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rachael Dombrowski, MPH, Office of Student Health and Wellness, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
Lara Jaskiewicz, PhD, MBA, MPH, School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI
Gina Massuda Barnett, MPH, Cook County Department of Public Health, Oak Forest, IL
Steve Seweryn, EdD, MPH, Community Epidemiology and Health Planning Unit, Cook County Department of Public Health, Oak Forest, IL
Maryann Mason, PhD, Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Introduction In suburban Cook County, IL communities with high proportions of low-income households, have higher obesity prevalence. These same communities often have limited access to healthy foods - especially fresh produce. Small, independent corner stores are the primary source of groceries in many of these communities, especially for residents without automobiles. These existing stores may be resources for bringing healthier options to residents in need.

Approach In 2010, the suburban Cook County Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative engaged 21 store owners in eight low income communities in Healthy Hotspot (HH), a pilot corner store project that aimed to increase healthy food access for low-income residents. Collaborating local organizations provided store owners training on healthy food pricing/placement and free marketing/promotional events to increase the stock and sale of healthy foods. A 2012, project evaluation was conducted to determine impact on store owners' knowledge, attitudes and motivation to continue the sale of healthy foods.

Results Interviews with store owners found positive attitudes towards healthier food sales, increased knowledge of the impact of healthier eating on the community, and a sense of commitment among store owners around obesity prevention - including a commitment to provide “health education” to customers. Store owner motivation to continue the project was not always tied to increased sales of healthy foods, especially in Latino communities.

Discussion Understanding small retail owners' perspectives is important to inform strategies for increasing healthy food access for low-income residents. Engaging local store owners can provide for sustainable and effective food access interventions.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain the role of corner store owners in small retail food access interventions Describe lessons learned from the project that can apply to other large, complex settings Describe key themes found from the project evaluation

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, Community Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as the Assistant Program Director for this project for the past 2.5 years and led the evaluation of the healthy corner store initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.