In many neighborhoods that lack supermarkets and grocery stores, families depend on corner stores and other small-scale stores to purchase food. The choices at these stores are often limited to packaged food and very little, if any, fresh produce. Improving the product mix at smaller stores and addressing other issues of viability — such as pricing, food quality and freshness, and customer service — are strategies that build upon existing community resources to enhance access to healthy food in underserved communities
Corner stores are also frequent destinations for children, many of whom stop daily on the way to and from school for snacks. Corner stores are therefore a great place to make healthy food choices available and easy. As a result, groups across the country are partnering with communities and corner store owners to increase the availability of healthy foods in corner stores. Some example programs include:
Because of the tremendous interest in improving healthy food options in corner stores across the country, advocates created a national resource for this work. The Healthy Corner Stores Network (HCSN) supports efforts to increase the availability and sales of healthy, affordable foods through small-scale stores in underserved communities.
The HCSN facilitates webinars that are organized around peer-to-peer learning, with brief presentations by network members and/or invited speakers. The HCSN website also highlights brief profiles of participant projects and provides links to resources. A listserv facilitates additional information sharing between network participants. Participants can become members of the HCSN for free, although membership is not required to participate in calls or use network resources.