News / USA

    Corner Stores Take a Healthy Turn

    New initiative helps urban shops stock fruits, vegetables and dairy

    Oliviarie’s Food Market is one of 440 corner stores in Philadelphia that has signed up for a program to offer healthier options - including fruits and vegetables - to its customers.
    Oliviarie’s Food Market is one of 440 corner stores in Philadelphia that has signed up for a program to offer healthier options - including fruits and vegetables - to its customers.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Matthew Petrillo

    There are more than 89,000 corner stores in the United States. Most are small, locally-owned shops, and in poorer city neighborhoods, they might be the only general store for blocks around. But the stores rarely carry fresh, healthy foods.

    A new initiative in Philadelphia is out to change that. The Food Trust, a nonprofit, is trying to make access to healthier foods easier and profitable.

    High cost of junk food

    Oliviarie’s Food Market is one of 440 corner stores in Philadelphia that has signed up for the program. The store acts as a kind of central hub for the surrounding neighborhoods, and often draws young people who end up purchasing high-calorie snacks.

    "We usually have chips and juice, candy," says Anita Davis, an eighth grader.

    "Soda and some gum," adds Shatera Della, her friend and schoolmate.

    The girls attend Barratt Norris Middle School which is just a few blocks away from Oliviarie’s. They come here almost every day after school, and they’re not alone. More than a quarter of Philadelphia students visit corner stores twice a day, five days a week, according to a new study. "Snacking in Children: the Role of Urban Corner Stores," was published by the Temple University Center for Obesity Research and Education.

    "In my opinion I think it’s really interesting that a child can spend a dollar and get 350 calories on average at any one trip to a corner store," says Stephanie Vander Veur, a clinical researcher at Temple. "It’s pretty amazing, if you ask me."

    The Healthy Corner Store Initiative even offers refrigerators to stores that agree to join the program.
    The Healthy Corner Store Initiative even offers refrigerators to stores that agree to join the program.

    By purchasing 350 calories on each visit to the corner store, Vander Veur notes, these students are consuming almost half a kilo's worth of additional calories each week. That is one reason, she says, why half of all the children living in America’s cities are overweight.

    Clara Santos, owner of Oliviarie’s Food Market, sees the same children twice a day. "When they’re going to school, and on their way back, they stop by the store."

    Santos points to the bags of chips and soda bottles — the most popular items they purchase — all for under a dollar.

    There are about 2,000 corner stores in Philadelphia and — like those elsewhere in the country — they often don’t carry healthier snacks and groceries, like fruits and dairy products. Owners point out that fresh foods need special handling, and they don’t know if customers will buy them.

    A healthy profit

    Brianna Almaguer Sandoval, project manager for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, stresses that stores can turn a profit with healthier items. "With those packaged goods, the profit you’re making is a couple cents per item, but with produce, it tends to be higher."

    The store owners receive $100 as a joining bonus, attractive baskets and stands to display their fresh produce, and refrigerators to store it in. The Food Trust works closely with store owners at first, introducing them to suppliers, showing them how to handle the food and providing materials to market it.

    Sandoval explains that the Food Trust also provides a list of healthier items they could carry, including canned goods, whole grains, "...dairy products, lean cuts of meat, fresh produce, obviously. And then we go back in three or four months and see if they made those changes."

    Without that help, Oliviarie’s Market owner Clara Santos says she would not have known how to begin selling fresh fruits and vegetables in her store. "I wouldn’t start it, I wouldn’t think about it, because I thought it was hard to introduce new things like that in a neighborhood where you don’t know if they’re going to buy it."

    Exploring options

    But the community has embraced the new access to healthier foods.

    Theresea McClery appreciates the corner store convenience, because the closest supermarket, which carries fresh healthy foods, is not within walking distance. "I like the apples, the carrots. I buy the carrots and eat them with sour cream."

    Santos says even the students are making healthy choices. "Some of them, in the morning, they eat an apple or yogurt."

    Before the program started, Santos only sold a few bunches of bananas a week. She now stocks — and sells — a colorful spectrum of oranges, apples, plantains and sweet potatoes. Meanwhile, other cities have taken notice of Philadelphia’s success. Portland, Oregon; Birmingham, Alabama and New York City are all planning to launch programs closely modeled on the Healthy Corner Store Initiative.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora