Spotlight on the Healthy Corner Store Initiative

Authors: As Hunger Action Month begins today, we have a blaring statistic to face: 50 million people in America don't get enough to eat, meaning 1 in 6 people go to bed hungry. However, we also have a number of ways to support a more just and sustainable food system in this country. One unique model that aims to address this problem is Philadelphia's Healthy Corner Store Initiative, spearheaded by The Food Trust. This initiative is a national effort to increase food access by empowering communities to support their local stores and change the food landscape. Today, Green For All releases a case-study of this initiative to highlight the success of The Food Trust and pitch it as a model that could be replicated in your home town. It may not come as a surprise that most food deserts, or areas with limited or no access to affordable healthy foods, fall in low-income communities and communities of color. The only food sources in these communities are often liquor and convenience stores carrying processed and packaged unhealthy foods. Our neighborhoods not only have high rates of malnutrition and chronic disease, but also suffer from poverty and underdevelopment. Often times our communities don't even benefit economically from the creation of new healthy food sources like farmers markets and new grocery stores. This is where the Healthy Corner Store Initiative fills a much-needed gap. By working side by side with the corner store owner, it improves the food landscape by increasing availability of healthy, affordable food in already existing corner stores. There is no new land required and the store owners already have a customer base established in the community. The Food Trust helps the store owners with marketing endeavors, nutrition education, and designing a strategy to gain support for healthy food from neighbors and youth. As it says in the case-study, "The store owners partnering with The Food Trust are responsible for ensuring that the children who shop at their store before and after school are able to make healthy choices. In doing so, they empower their businesses and directly contribute to the health and well-being of the communities they serve." Since launching in Pennsylvania, this type of initiative has been implemented in 15 states across the country, providing healthy food to hundreds of thousands of people while generating thousands of jobs in the process! Created to address the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, Philadelphia's Healthy Corner Store Initiative proposes a viable solution to both hunger and economic underdevelopment in our communities, which is very much needed. It shows us that successful healthy food ventures require more than just an affordable price – they require ownership and a cultural shift in the way that the community thinks about food. Most importantly, it puts residents in our communities at the center of the fight for equitable food access. Viva healthy food for all!

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