Markets Investing In Neighborhood Health — Shop Here

new battambangFinding healthy food options in economically depressed urban areas is notoriously difficult. Here is one shop that is stepping up to the plate. It is hoped that more markets will join in if they see it’s also good for business. Hey, if your customers live longer, they can buy more stuff.

Two corner stores on the Southside of Providence will get a healthy store “makeover” this week thanks to the Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative (PHCSI), a new initiative that unites Rhode Island farmers, corner store owners, and community residents to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain items, low-salt and low-sugar canned goods, and healthier snacks available in Providence neighborhoods. The PHCSI is a collaborative project, led by the Environmental Justice League of RI (EJLRI) with support from Farm Fresh RI, Kids First, the Rhode Island Department of Health, Providence high school students, and local farms and business owners.

More info after the jump from Amelia Rose, Director, Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, 1192 Westminster Street, 401.383.7441. Many local businesses are pitching in — let them know you support their efforts.

Drop by today (Tuesday) and watch the health makeover at New Battambang, 366 Elmwood Avenue, from noon to 2pm.

You could learn a lot. Much more importantly, patronize the stores that are willing to give this a try.  Most of the stuff that is good for you is perishable and more difficult to store. At the end of the day (and I really mean ‘at the end of the day’) these store owners will be throwing away some of their unsold inventory with a direct hit to their bottom line. Make this worth their while.

produce section

(Picture of New Battambang produce section.)

Since the kick-off in May, PHCSI partners and volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the makeovers by identifying new healthy items for stores to stock as well as preparing marketing and outreach materials to let store customers and community members know that healthy items are coming soon to stores in their neighborhood. At the makeovers, in addition to physically rearranging products and displays to promote the healthiest options, volunteers will also be labeling healthy food items with the PHCSI logo, making sure price tags and labels on produce are visible, and clearly labeling the healthy items families can purchase with their WIC coupons. The makeovers will also include taste tests of new healthy snack products as well as cooking demonstrations by chefs from Kids First and Johnson and Wales.

As part of the special store makeover days, numerous local businesses provided one-time donations of healthy items to sell and sample.  Confreda Greenhouses & Farms donated over 100 lbs of produce to each store, including fresh corn, cabbage, green beans, summer squash, peppers and tomatoes. Farm fresh apples and peaches were donated by Hill Orchard in Johnston, and local milk was donated by Rhody Fresh Milk. Sparkling 100% juice was donated by the Switch Beverage Company as a healthy alternative to soda.

Materials and supplies for the makeovers were made possible through donations from Sodexo, United Natural Foods (UNFI), and the RI Department of Health.  Healthy snack products were purchased by the PHCSI through the Urban Greens Food Coop Buying Club as an added incentive to store owners to participate in the project.

After the store makeovers are completed, the PHCSI will continue to provide outreach and technical support to increase the availability and sales of healthy food options in these two stores.  Other plans include connecting corner store owners with local farms to provide farm fresh produce through Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s distribution program, the Market Mobile.  In the coming year, the PHCSI will continue to talk to more store owners on the Southside and eventually in other Providence neighborhoods to enroll more stores in the initiative.

Next Saturday’s make-over: 11am to 1pm, the Mi Quisqueya Market at 933 Broad Street.

5 thoughts on “Markets Investing In Neighborhood Health — Shop Here”

  1. I agree with Jessica. Most depressed urban neighborhoods have little, if any, access to fresh food and grocery stores. Living on the East Side, I am blessed with several grocery store options including Whole Foods, and never have to frequent corner stores (like CUMBY) for my provisions.

    This is a critically important initiative for not only the health of the people living in underserved neighborhoods, but for our nation’s economic well-being. By 2025, the obesity and overweight rate will have doubled to 300 million people. In 10 years, 80% of heart disease will be weight-related. Access to healthy food is vital.

    Today is a day to celebrate Amelia, Environmental Justice and the many business partners for creating what is hoped to be a new, and much needed, national movement.

  2. “Nobody is saying that people with darker skin don’t eat as well as white people. ”

    I hear this all the time. There was even a letter war about this subject in East Side Monthly a couple years back.

  3. East Side corner stores don’t have to have healthy options – there are, like, 4 fully stocked grocery stores east of the highway. The West End, Olneyville, and Southside have about 2 grocery stores total, so corner stores have to fill in the gap for a lot of families on this side of town. And there are a number of barriers that make it more difficult for most corner store owners to stock healthy foods – capacity to store, refrigerate, and freeze fresh foods, limitation due to distribution companies that service corner stores, etc.

    Nobody is saying that people with darker skin don’t eat as well as white people. There’s just a big difference when it comes to neighborhood access to fresh foods, and this project is trying to make it easier for corner store owners to stock healthier options.

    Take a look at some of the healthy corner store initiatives happening in Oakland, NYC, and Philly. This is a good thing. Bravo to Environmental Justice League and partners for making it happen here.

  4. The ethnic stores in poor neighborhoods Aren’t the ones where you can’t find healthy snacks.

    The CUMBY’s on the East side doesn’t have even a quarter of the healthy options that New Battambang has had for 10 years.

    Just because people have darker skin doesn’t mean they don’t eat as well as you do. This has been the hidden racism of the Providence food community for decades.

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