Heart Smarts Program Connects Cleveland Residents with Healthy Corner Store Options

In communities with minimal access to supermarkets, residents often rely on convenience stores for groceries. Most often these stores sell highly processed, high-calorie foods with low nutritional quality, and very few of them sell fresh produce, whole grains or healthy dairy, meats or fish. Healthy retail programs work to help these small stores in profitably stocking and selling healthy items, and using in-store marketing to direct customers toward healthy choices.
In 2014, The Food Trust unveiled the Hearts Smarts Program in Philadelphia which expands customer access to the information needed to make healthy choices. As part of the PRCHN’s Healthy Food Retail Initiative, Heart Smarts made its Ohio debut at the beginning of September in four small retail stores in Cleveland and East Cleveland. These stores participate in the Good Food Here Program in partnership with PRCHN and HIP-Cuyahoga.  Heart Smarts is a SNAP-Ed curriculum, developed by The Food Trust, that brings nutrition education to community settings including corner and grocery stores, farmers markets, and food pantries.
The Heart Smarts program meets residents where they are and has grown to an evidence-based model for providing community nutrition education and prevention services in high risk communities. Evidence-based practice is the conscientious and judicious use of current best evidence in conjunction with clinical expertise and patient values to guide health care decisions.
Food Access Raises Everyone (FARE) staff offer nutrition lessons, taste tests of simple, healthy recipes, measuring cups, and $4 in Heart Bucks to spend in store on healthy items to any store customers who wanted to participate. Each week, participants receive a new  nutrition education lesson around topics such as low-sodium, whole grains/high fiber, and stretching your food dollars. Heart Smarts will be expanding to three additional stores in the Cleveland area later this fall.