Healthy Corner Stores
Food deserts are prevalent in San Antonio. Grocery stores have a high bar for profitability, but convenience stores are everywhere. Improving access to unprocessed, whole foods carried at convenience stores can make significant strides in healthy food access. We’ve adapted a national model to our own culture, to aid in building healthier communities.
Healthy Corner Stores
This program increases healthy food access in neighborhoods with few nutritious options. It helps convenience stores that are already embedded within communities to buy and sell more produce. The Food Policy Council proposed this program to the city of San Antonio, and after a successful pilot Healthy Corner Store Initiative in City Council District 3, the program has been expanded to a total of 30 stores throughout the city. According to Metro Health’s SA Forward plans, the goals for Healthy Corner Stores includes adding 12 in this fiscal year (2022) and having at least 50 member stores by 2026.
The program provides display options like shelving and fridges to stores, reduces their wholesale cost of produce from distributors, and markets the program to potential customers. Through these strategies, a sustainable sales model for affordable produce emerges in long-standing food deserts. The program has provided nearly a million pounds of produce to participating convenience stores already, with much more on the horizon.
San Antonio Metro Health now operates the bulk of the program, with advisory roles for other partners like the Food Policy Council. Our nonprofit does provide assistance through occasional grants, like Humana’s Bold Goal program which allowed us to create room-temperature basket display options for participating stores.
In the pilot, the program was operated by many different partners bringing together their resources to increase access to healthy, affordable food.
- District 3 obtained $50,000 in City funding to purchase produce as store owners learn to stock, and customers learn to look for, healthy fruits and vegetables at their neighborhood convenience store. D3 staff also helps oversee the program.
- University of the Incarnate Word’s School of Osteopathic Medicine administered payments and incorporates engagement with medical students and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Happi Foodi, a frozen food company, donated $25,000 for refrigerators for stores needing additional capacity.
- Metro Health’s Community Health Workers helped recruit stores and spread the word to neighborhood residents.
- River City Produce and now Big State Produce deliver produce and training in produce handling, and report on quantities delivered.
- The Compost Queens collected unsold produce for use in urban farm soils, and reported on what was removed.
- The San Antonio Food Bank provided nutrition, health and wellness education through culinary demos featuring the seasonal produce available in the stores.
- The Food Policy Council of San Antonio helped coordinate the partnerships and advocated for new locations.
- Several City Council members have extended he program to other districts.
Our Original Proposal to City Council
Metro Health Flyers
Resources for Corner Store Owners
- Is Your Store Ready to Sell Fresh Fruits & Vegetables?
- How to Store and Sell Produce ( Attached)
- Distribution Options for Fresh Foods
- Making a Profit with Better-for-You Foods