Healthy Retail Stores Become Community Partners

The Healthy Retail Initiative has memos of understanding with 20 corner stores, and these relationships are deepening. Community Health Ambassadors Hank Smith and Delores Collins have hosted outreach events at two “Good Food Here” stores to promote upcoming Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) workshops in the St. Clair Superior and Glenville communities. The most recent events were at Sheliga Drug True Value (6025 St Clair Ave) and Parkwood Drive Thru (11003 Superior Avenue). The CDSM workshops are offered in conjunction with Fairhill Partners. These free six-week courses are designed to help residents with a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, find practical ways to deal with pain and fatigue, discover better nutrition and exercise choices, understand new treatment choices, and learn better ways to talk with their doctor and family about their health.

In addition to talking to residents about the workshops, Smith and Collins provide resources such as the Healthy Eating Active Living resource list, the community food guide, and OSU-Extension’s “Chop Chop” magazine. They also talk to customers about what healthy items they would like to see in the store and ask them to fill out suggestion cards. Smith notes that these events are “very gratifying.” He was once diagnosed as pre-diabetic but explains “I found out that if I just changed my eating habits and activities, I don’t have to become diabetic. And that’s what I did. By being successful in that, I can pass along that knowledge to others in my neighborhood. One of the best things that I can do is to let somebody else know how well it worked for me. My mother had diabetes and high blood pressure. So did my brother. But I don’t have to have it.”

The Healthy Retail Initiative helps improve community access to healthy foods by working with convenience and corner store owners to incorporate some fresh produce, whole grain, and low-fat/low-sugar items in their stores. Stores receive marketing and vendor guidance as well as signs and decals designating them as part of the Ohio Department of Health’s Good Food Here branding.

Briana McIntosh, REACH Fellow, states that the Ambassadors’ presence in the store creates “an avenue for customers to build relationships with store owners and vice versa. Additionally, the ambassadors do a wonderful job at engaging and providing helpful information to the community in an environment that often gets overlooked.” The PRCHN and the Community Health Ambassadors will host more events during the spring and summer months and more stores enter into the advanced stages of the healthy retail initiative.