Shop healthy: Communities

The most effective strategy for addressing healthy food access is twofold. It involves partnering with local retailers (supply) and educating community residents (demand). Residents need to be informed that healthy, affordable foods are now available at a local store and educated on how to properly prepare healthy foods and incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their lifestyle. The Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy: Community Toolkit provides community groups with ideas and a plan for increasing both supply and demand. Retailers need to be encouraged to improve the quality and type of healthy, affordable foods they stock, and supported in their efforts to do so. To gain a better understanding of what it takes to increase healthy food inventory, check out the Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy: Retailer Toolkit. Both toolkits are available from the downloads page.

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Keep in mind, it’s a delicate balance between increasing access to healthy food and building demand in the community. Simply increasing the accessibility of healthy foods won’t guarantee that residents will buy and eat more healthy foods. To have a large-scale effect, the increase in the availability of healthy foods must be accompanied by community education and efforts to build community demand.

Who should use the community toolkit?

Anyone wanting to increase access to healthful foods in the local community:

  • Community volunteers
  • Neighborhood associations
  • Nonprofits
  • Service organizations
  • Public health agencies
  • Local community and economic development departments
  • Schools

For some communities, the local small food retailer is the only store to which they have easy access. By encouraging small food retailers to sell more healthy foods and supporting them in their efforts, you can make your community a healthier place for everyone.

What’s in this toolkit?

Helpful strategies for:

  • Forming a community network
  • Partnering with and promoting a store
  • Providing community outreach and education
  • Building community demand for healthful foods

The combined ideas in this toolkit, in addition to the Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy: Retailer Toolkit, constitute a full-scale healthy small food retailer program. Not all communities or stores will be ready or able to implement them all. Community leaders should customize their plans to meet specific, local needs and to ensure that small food retailers in the most underserved areas can become partners in improving the community’s health.