At A Glance
Residents of most low-income urban areas in Pennsylvania have limited access to healthy foods. The Pennsylvania Department of Health partnered with The Food Trust to train community partners how to work with store owners to stock and promote healthier food and beverages. Increasing healthier options makes it easier for community residents to make healthier choices. Over 150 stores serving 890,000 residents in 10 of the most populated cities in Pennsylvania now offer healthier food and beverage options closer to where residents live.
Public Health Challenge
Food accessibility and affordability can influence what consumers eat. Compared to most other states, Pennsylvania has a large proportion of residents living in areas with low access to supermarkets, most in low-income areas, according to the 2011 Reinvestment Fund report. Residents may lack transportation to shop at stores with healthy foods and rely on corner stores with less healthy options. Children can visit corner stores walking to and from school. One study showed children bought on average 360 calories in chips, candy, and sugary drinks on each visit. Poor nutrition is a risk factor for chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, 14% of Pennsylvania adolescents had obesity in 2017, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Through the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, The Food Trust trained community partners to help stores improve access to healthy foods and beverages. Stores authorized for the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as stores that are licensed tobacco retailers, receive priority for participation. Participating store owners learned how to stock more healthy items and how to buy, handle, and store fresh produce. They received small monetary incentives for increasing their inventory of healthy items. Store owners received display materials to identify the store as a participant and to guide customers to healthier options.