The Food Trust's Fresh Food Initiative

Polo Food Market at 10th and Brown Streets in Philadelphia has been transformed. The 2000-square-foot corner store is now a “Fresh Corner” store, with a significantly expanded selection of fresh produce and other healthy foods including 100% juice and whole-wheat bread.

Polo Food Market is one of five Philadelphia stores participating in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative’s “Fresh Corner” Store Pilot, a project of The Food Trust, vital city, and state partners including State Representative Dwight Evans, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Data from the Food Trust evaluation efforts, show that in-store marketing increased produce sales at participating stores.

“We want to provide good food for our community,” says Polo Food Market owner Selinette Rodriguez. “They are asking for it. Now the kids -- before they go to school -- they grab an apple, they grab oranges. Before it was cake, chips, soda."

“Fresh Corner” stores received significant design, store layout, and infrastructural improvements, including the installation of a “Fresh Corner” kiosk to dramatically expand shelf space and marketing opportunities for produce and other healthy items. “Fresh Corner” kiosks provide space for cooking demonstrations, recipe cards, and other materials to help customers make healthy choices. “Fresh Corner” stores also participate in The Food Trust’s Philadelphia Healthy Corner Store Network – which includes more than 600 corner stores committed to stocking healthier foods.

“Corner stores are a community gathering point in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia,” says The Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann. “They are on the front lines and are an important partner in improving access to affordable, nutritious food for Philadelphia’s children and families.” A Philadelphia-based study found that more than one-quarter of fourth through sixth graders in lower-income urban schools shop at corner stores two times a day, five days a week, with an average purchase of 356 calories.

To measure the impact of the "Fresh Corner" program, The Food Trust implemented point-of-sale (POS) systems at two participating stores. Data collected by The Food Trust through POS systems showed a dramatic increase in fruit and vegetable sales. From 2013 to 2014, produce sales at two Fresh Corner stores increased by an average of over 60% (based on 6 months of data from each year).

"Corner stores are increasingly the focus of community interventions to expand healthy food access. Increased sales show that environmental improvements in stores, and prominent placement of fruits and vegetables, create a win-win for consumers and store owners", says Candace Young, Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at The Food Trust. "These findings are an exciting development and contribute to our understanding of what in-store marketing efforts are effective in guiding consumers to healthier choices."

The "Fresh Corner" program is a successful and innovative store environment and marketing initiative to increase access to healthier options in underserved communities. The Food Trust will explore ways to adapt and expand the "Fresh Corner" model to other stores in the future.

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The Food Trust is a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Headquartered in Philadelphia, The Food Trust has worked with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers in Philadelphia and across the country to develop a comprehensive approach to improved food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food. Learn more at www.thefoodtrust.org.

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    An in-store marketing display highlights produce and healthy food as more desirable food options.
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    An example "Fresh Corner" store, serving as a key access point for connecting communities with greater healthy food options.
  • Poor diet is a leading risk factor for childhood obesity, along with lack of physical activity and prolonged screen times.

  • Lack of access to nutritious fresh foods in neighborhoods underserved by grocery stores, is linked to higher rates of chronic diseases.