Big News: Healthy Corner Stores in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside

Regular readers of Jump IN’s blog may remember a previous blog post highlighting our work in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, a two-year, national competition among cities and counties to create the healthiest community.  Our project focused on improving healthy environments to reduce childhood obesity in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside.  Our work has included interventions in schools, child cares, and in helping increase access to healthy food.  An important part of our food access work is a program we launched with support from the Glick Fund, the Healthy Corner Stores Initiative.  We have an update on that work that we’re excited to share with you.  

First store conversion team

In December, 2017, Jump IN received a $50,000 grant from the Glick Fund to pilot the Food Trust’s approach to healthy corner stores, training community partners (Marion Co. Health staff, Purdue Extension wellness staff, and Community Ambassadors – neighborhood residents who know the community well) to identify corner stores in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside to increase offering healthy options at affordable pricing. The Food Trust is a national organization based in Philadelphia that has established many different solutions to healthy food access challenges, including a proven system of improving the quality of food offered in convenience stores, gas stations, dollar stores and other corner stores – at affordable prices.  Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside are rated as a severe food dessert; this project offers a solution relatively quickly. Rather than waiting years hoping for a full-service grocery to arrive, this initiative creates access to healthier food within a matter of months. 

The big news: our first corner store, at 9950 E. 38th Street, has just completed its “healthy food re-set!”  This first store is getting a healthy checkout, healthy snack rack, hand fruit display, and a new cooler at the entrance for healthy beverages and fresh “grab and go” snacks. The team also removed tobacco signage from the store’s exterior windows and are replacing it with half-height window wraps — once the temperature goes above freezing that is! This store is a gas station convenience store, so the group worked with the store owner, Ali (in the middle of the photo, above) to find healthy foods and beverages that fit his business model. Bonus: the fresh produce is sourced from Tiendo Morelas, a superette nearby and our second participating store, that will be going through a re-set this week.

And we have more great news to report:  the Food Trust just learned this week that they’ll be receiving a significant grant from the Anthem Foundation to convert several more corner stores in the area, so our Healthy Corner Stores Initiative will continue to grow!

Bowl of fresh fruit

While our Healthiest Cities and Counties project did not win the Challenge, the work we and our partners have done in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside is going strong, and we have learned a great deal. Our Healthy Corner Stores are a terrific step in bringing healthier shopping options to neighborhoods that need them, and we are delighted that this program is making a difference.