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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid