Healthy Store Programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), but not the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are Associated with Corner Store Healthfulness

DeWeese, Todd, Karpyn, et al.
June 29, 2016

In response to lack of access to healthy foods, many low-income communities are instituting local healthy corner store programs. Some stores also participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This study used two assessment tools to compare the healthfulness of offerings at stores participating in local healthy store programs (upgraded stores), WIC, and/or SNAP to that of similar non-participating stores. Based on store audits conducted in 315 New Jersey corner stores in 2014, we calculated healthy food availability scores using subsections of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Corner Stores (NEMS-CS-Availability) and a short-form corner store audit tool (SCAT). We used multivariable regression to examine associations between program participation and scores on both instruments. Adjusting for store and block group characteristics, stores participating in a local healthy store program had significantly higher SCAT scores than did non-participating stores (upgraded: M = 3.18, 95% CI 2.65-3.71; non-upgraded: M = 2.52, 95% CI 2.32-2.73); scores on the NEMS-CS-Availability did not differ (upgraded: M = 12.8, 95% CI 11.6-14.1; non-upgraded: M = 12.5, 95% CI 12.0-13.0). WIC-participating stores had significantly higher scores compared to non-participating stores on both tools. Stores participating in SNAP only (and not in WIC) scored significantly lower on both instruments compared to non-SNAP stores. WIC-participating and non-SNAP corner stores had higher healthfulness scores on both assessment tools. Upgraded stores had higher healthfulness scores compared to non-upgraded stores on the SCAT.

Keywords: Health, nutrition, diet, food, food assistance, food environment, nutrition surveys

RS DeWeese, M Todd, Allison Karpyn, M J Yedidia, M Kennedy, M Bruening, C M Wharton, P Ohri-Vachaspati