-SELL FRESH PRODUCE
AT CORNER STORES-
Fruits and vegetables are displayed at the front counter, and refrigerated options are offered next to the beverages. The owner noticed that most customers tended to turn left as they entered the store, so that is where he put the produce display.
The Kash and Karry Food Mart
The Kash and Karry in Greenville, NC, used to be like many other gas stations/convenience stores. Most of their customers were either drivers passing through on a long-distance trip, or locals from a nearby neighborhood. They would drop in, grab chips, candy, or a soda, and be on their way. When a team from East Carolina University's Department of Public Health approached the store about adding some healthier options, the owner, David Rizek, decided to give it a try. They started by installing a small display with bananas and oranges at the front counter. The fruit quickly became popular among visitors, who enjoyed having fresh produce as an option.
After getting positive feedback, David decided to expand fruit and vegetable offerings. He received a grant to purchase a refrigerated display case, which provided room for more types of produce. He added apples, grapes, lemons, limes, onions, and potatoes. ECU created healthy food "stop light" signs to help people learn more about the healthier options available in the store. Foods that should be eaten rarely were given a red sticker; foods that should be eaten sometimes were given a yellow sticker; and foods that should be eaten often were given a green sticker.
The Kash and Karry has been selling fresh produce for more than five years now, and the fruits and veggies are as popular as ever. David reports a 30-40% profit on the produce, meaning it’s good for both the business and the community.
Providing healthy produce at convenience stores is a great way to encourage healthy eating across the community. It can be especially effective at convenience stores located in food deserts, or places that do not have easy access fresh, healthy, and affordable foods. Here are some tips from David:
Start Small: David started with just oranges and bananas, and when those became popular he added more fruits and veggies.
Listen to Your Customers: Many customers requested easy-to-eat produce, and they wanted a convenient way to carry it on the road. So, David began sorting the produce into snack-size containers that could be easily opened and closed, even while driving.
Find Easy Sources: The store doesn't sell enough produce to make it worth buying from a wholesaler, so all produce is purchased from local grocery stores and packaged in-house.
The Healthy Food Small Retailer Program, a new initiative from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is helping corner stores in food deserts sell healthier food. Visit their website for resources and information about their grant program.
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Baskets of squash.
Pantry shelves stocked full.
Fresh foods on table.