This video features the stories of three store owners in North Carolina who participated in a pilot program to stock and sell healthy and local produce in their neighborhoods. It shows how the program has benefited the store owners, local farmers, and their communities. With more widespread funding to implement the Healthy Corner Store Initiative across the state, store owners would be able to stock and sell more nutrient-dense food.
North Carolina has over 349 food deserts across 80 counties, impacting over 1.5 million North Carolina residents. Limited food access and insecurity adversely impact diet and health and is one of the causes of the state’s high rate of obesity. Access to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, seafood and other lean proteins is limited in food deserts. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends these nutrient-rich foods as part of a healthy diet. There is strong evidence that increased fruits and vegetable consumption can decrease risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. In fact, a population-wide shift in just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables could save the U.S. $2.7 trillion in medical costs. Food insecurity is associated with poor diet quality and greater obesity, as well as related conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death. A healthy diet is crucial for both prevention and treatment of these costly chronic diseases.
Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove the barrier for healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth, and community revitalization.