The Healthy Corner Store Initiative was a community campaign to add healthy options and variety to the food available at small markets in Providence and Pawtucket, especially focusing on convenient snacks that are available to kids. By working with store owners, vendors, youth, and community residents, the HCSI ‘s goal was to make it easier for all families to find and cook healthy food. Choosing more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to take care of your body and reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses.
If you don’t see fresh produce, fruit cups, or other healthy snack options like granola bars, trail mix, pretzels, raisins, and low-fat chips at your favorite corner store, make sure to ask for them!
How the HCSI worked:
The HCSI happene in 3 Phases:
Phase I: The initiative began with educational workshops in elementary, middle, and high schools. Students and/or parents led neighborhood surveys to find interested corner store owners. Once stores sign up, the HCSI did customer surveys to figure out healthy products that customers want and changes they want to see. In 2010 we launched the HCSI with a food- and fun-filled Iron Chef Cook-Off Competition at Feinstein High School, and raised funds for Phase II.
Phase II: With input and collaboration from the HCSI leadership team (including EJLRI staff and volunteers, and representatives of Kids First, Southside Community Land Trust, Ready to Learn Providence, Mujeres con Poder, and the RI Department of Health), makeover plans and materials were developed for each store (and are all available on the Resources page!) The HCSI has developed relationships with distributors including Roch’s Produce and B&B Distributing in order to supply stores with new healthy snack items such as fresh fruit cups and healthier packaged snacks. We held the first ever Healthy Corner Store Makeover Days in August 2010 at two stores in Providence, followed by a third makeover at a store in Pawtucket in November 2010. In 2011 new stores joined the project, which are listed above.
Phase III: After our participating stores had a healthy dose of new products, labeling, and product placement, the HCSI focused on evaluating the success of the makeovers and continued to work with storeowners to maintain the changes and identify healthy products that their customers want to buy and encouraged owners to contact their current vendors to request certain items. We also worked with owners to reduce their store’s stock of unhealthy items such as artificial fruit juices and sugary cereals. We used interviews with owners, additional customer surveys, and a healthy item tracking form to evaluate our success in maintaining the healthy changes over time.
- For more information on local food and where you can find it, check out Farm Fresh Rhode Island here!
- To learn about healthy cooking for kids and families, including recipes and programs, look to Kids First RI!
- To get inspired and excited, read about Market Makeovers, Or see what other communities are doing, like the D.C. Hunger Solutions Healthy Corner Store Initiative and The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative in Philadelphia.
Big thanks go out to our generous funders for supporting the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and our youth food justice work!
Youth-Led Store Makeovers
Check out before & after photos of the 2010 and 2011 Corner Store Makeovers and the video made by students in the Community Environmental College (CEC) in 2010 documenting their project.
The HCSI project grew out of the 2009 Community Environmental College and the student-made video about food justice and healthy food awareness. Watch the video here to learn more about food justice issues.
Also, check out “Homemade….and Secretly Delicious”, a blog created by students in the 2011 CEC, to learn great recipes to cook and enjoy at home!