The link between diet and lack of access to affordable, healthy food is recognized as a major contributing factor to the nationwide obesity epidemic. (Center of Disease Control and Prevention CDC http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/). The issue of food deserts has become a ubiquitous topic for discussion whether it is a clinical research report or a report on the local news program. (USDA – Food Deserts http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx).
The report titled “Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research” published in November, 2003, states the following:
“The majority of the evidence continues to support—or strengthen—three primary findings:
- Accessing healthy food is still a challenge for many families, particularly those living in low income neighborhoods, communities of color and rural areas.
- Living closer to healthy food retail is among the factors associated with better eating habits and decreased risk for obesity and diet-related diseases.
- Healthy food retail stimulates economic activity.”(1)
Thus the purpose for this report is not to rehash the link between obesity and food deserts. Instead the purpose is to review healthy store programs as a strategy for providing access to affordable, healthy food and identifying the critical elements that need to be in place for initiating a healthy store program.
What we’re trying to do now is reinvest in these neighborhoods and bring the food businesses and other businesses back to these neighborhoods ” says The Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann.
“We believe that supermarket access is one piece of a comprehensive approach. While bringing in healthy food stores into neighborhoods we also want to be teaching kids how to eat healthy in schools we want to be having cooking demonstrations at recreation centers running farmers’ markets in neighborhoods. We think that all of these things combined are what can improve the health of people and their neighborhoods.”
State & Local Experience
St. Luke’s Health Initiatives has recently been involved in two projects that have contributed to the local knowledge base regarding access to affordable, healthy food. Both projects included an assessment and analysis of existing conditions in the study areas. This was supported by national research and reports identifying healthy food access as a critical issue for residents of the study areas, particularly because the residents of the study areas are typically low-income households. Both projects – Maryvale on the Move; and ReinventPHX – are discussed in the following Case Studies and Best Practices section.
- Healthy Corner Stores Network,
- The Food Trust
- CDC – Communities Putting Prevention to Work
- ChangeLab Solutions, LICENSING FOR LETTUCE A Guide to the Model Licensing Ordinance for Healthy Food Retailers
- Healthy Food Access Portal, Retail Strategies, Corner Stores
- ReinventPHX – Gateway District – Healthy Impact Assessment
- Maryvale on the Move
- Piloting healthy corner stores: a 5-county study to build best practices for healthy corner stores, Community Food Lab
- Uplift Solutions
- Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community
- Healthy Corner Store Network
- Denver Healthy Food Access Initiative
- Minneapolis Healthy Corner Stores Program
- Philadelphia’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative
- Shop Healthy NYC
- Maryvale on the Move
- Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research, PolicyLink: The Food Trust, 2013
- Green for Greens; National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity, Public Health Law & Policy, 2012
- How to Use Economic Development to Improve Access to Healthy Food; Public Health Law & Policy, 2009
- Healthy Food Access Portal http://www.healthyfoodaccess.org/FindResources/Library?f%5B0%5D=field_resource_type%3A367
- Changes in the WIC Food Packages: A Toolkit for Partnering with Neighborhood Stores
- Funding Sources for Healthy Food Retail
- Healthy Neighborhood Store Alliance Toolkit
- Healthy Community Toolkit – Access to Healthy Food – A Toolkit for Neighborhood Organizers and Storeowners, Spokane Regional Health District,
- Healthy on the Block: Healthy Corner Store Toolkit, Boston Public Health Commission