An emerging body of research examines the health and economic impacts of healthy corner store interventions, although implementing valid mechanisms to capture changes in diet remains a challenge. Healthy corner store interventions employ strategies to help corner stores procure, maintain and market healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy items like skim milk. A recent national convening of partners yielded a series of research and evaluation questions that need answers in order for the field to progress. Participants in the Healthy Corner Stores Symposium identified several challenges to developing a sustainable business model for small-scale healthy food retail. This group of practitioners, funders, lenders, academics, and other leaders ranked what they saw as the most promising opportunities for maximizing the positive impact these businesses have on the community. Unique to this forum, the agenda was born from a program-operation perspective and not from the more common approach where an independent researcher evaluates the efficacy of a program or intervention. As efforts to improve food systems emerge, such an approach to research is critical. The central challenges and a prioritized list of research questions are discussed.
Keywords: Food Systems, Sustainability, Food Security, Food Justice, Community, Development, Farmers Markets, Policy, Race, Beginning Farmers, Climate Change, Food System, Agriculture, Zoning, Labor, Nutrition, SNAP, Value Chains, Planning, GIS, Supply Chains, Farming, CSA, Governance, Gender, Vermont, Rural, USDA
Allison Karpyn, Hannah Burton-Laurison