February 2014 Update:
The Environmental Justice League is working with the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office, the African Alliance, Urban Ventures, and a RISD/Brown Design for America team this year focusing on sustaining the Healthy Corner Store project into the future. The City will be piloting low-interest loans for refrigeration and other infrastructure to support stores to stock and sell fresh produce and other healthy items. We will also be launching a Mayor’s recognition program for stores that meet healthy corner store criteria, and redesigning the layout of a few showcase stores with Design for America to promote healthy items. Look out for cooking demonstrations featuring African and Latin produce – some grown right here in Providence at the Manton Bend Community Farm – and other community events led by our very own ECO Youth at participating corner stores this spring and summer!
December 2011 E-Newsletter Update:
This fall the EJ League continued the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, looking towards advocating for policy changes that will support healthier food options in Providence communities that are most burdened with junk food, sugary drinks, and health problems. ECO Youth have been a huge part of this effort, as well as parents at Mary Fogarty Elementary School, William D’Abate Elementary School, and the West End Community Center, in addition to partner organizations like Kids First, Ready to Learn Providence, and the RI Department of Health who have supported the project since the beginning.
We held 3 dinners in each school and community center to hear from Providence residents about what policy changes they think would support healthier corner stores and reduce the availability and consumption of junk food–especially among kids. We also participated in RI’s first-ever Food Day on October 24th–helping launch the new statewide RI Food Policy Council. ECO Youth Jummy Olagundoye spoke at the marquee event at the Statehouse! Check out the video here!
What is the Healthy Corner Store Initiative?
The Healthy Corner Store Initiative is 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 wants 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!
Also, make sure to ask for a
healthy batida (fruit shake) at
D&C Market on Elmwood Ave!
You can support the Healthy Corner Store Initiative by shopping at small corner stores in your neighborhood and choosing (or asking for) healthy options!
If you are a store owner or customer and want to bring the HCSI to a store near you, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
How the HCSI works:
The HCSI works in 3 Phases:
1. Phase I: The initiative begins with educational workshops in elementary, middle, and high schools. Students and/or parents lead neighborhood surveys to find interested corner store owners. Once stores sign up, the HCSI does 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.
2. 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 are 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.
3. Phase III: After our participating stores have a healthy dose of new products, labeling, and product placement, the HCSI focuses on evaluating the success of the makeovers and continuing to work with storeowners to maintain the changes. We will continue to work with owners to identify healthy products that their customers want to buy and encourage owners to contact their current vendors to request certain items. We will also work with owners to reduce their store’s stock of unhealthy items such as artificial fruit juices and sugary cereals. We are using 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!
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.