Caught a clip on TV about a healthy corner store initiative happening in my neck of the woods. The Western Convenience Store Association (WCSA) has launched a collaborative effort to bring healthier food choices to its member convenience stores. While there have been one-offs across Canada, mostly by non-profits, it is great to see the convenience store association taking this on. In the US, the Center for Disease Control funds healthy corner store initiatives; they’ve clearly made the link between junk food and the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. In many low-income neighbourhoods, gas station/stores and corner stores are the only shopping option.
In May, I attended a workshop at a food policy conference in Portland. Panelists from Public Health in Seattle & King County, Urban Food Link, The Food Trust and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future discussed innovative strategies for overcoming common barriers when implementing healthy corner store programs in underserved areas (often called food deserts). Some of the programs provided training and incentives to small storeowners to carry healthier food items such as fresh produce. Others offered infrastructure, like new coolers, refrigeration units, shelving and signage.
The WCSA also plans to start listing more of the ingredients on the food items they stock. Bravo! You can read more about healthy corner stores, including Canadian initiatives, on the Healthy Corner Store Network.