Around the Corner to Better Health

Partnering with corner stores to increase the availability of healthy food in Milwaukee’s central city

Full Project Name:Around the Corner to Better HealthPrimary Community Organization:Walnut Way Conservation CorpPrimary Academic Partner:Staci Young, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$199,999
Award Date
January2012
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:


Recent data demonstrate the critical need for strategies that address obesity and chronic diseases associated with poor nutrition in urban community. In Wisconsin, the need is reflected in both statewide and local data. Statewide, 59% of African-Americans were physically inactive and 70% were reported as overweight or obese.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Minority Report, 73% of African Americans in Wisconsin live in the urban city of Milwaukee. According to the Milwaukee Health Report, 58% of people living in lower socioeconomic status areas of Milwaukee are physically inactive, 31% are obese, and 70% report inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. In one targeted neighborhood, the Lindsay Heights neighborhood of the city, an over-reliance on high-price, low-nutrition convenience products and fast food contribute to the health risk of residents. Of the neighborhood’s 45 retail food outlets, the greatest number were convenience stores or gas stations (40%) followed by fast food restaurants (16%). Over 65% of the neighborhood retail food outlets offered no fresh produce.

Nationally, corner store interventions have emerged as a critical factor in improving the food environment. To address healthy food availability and engage store owners, project partners aim to establish a Healthy Corner Stores Initiative that will maximize health benefits for residents by promoting healthy food access while maximizing economic benefits for store owners.

Community partners:
City of Milwaukee Health Department, Lindsay Heights Neighborhood Health Alliance

Additional MCW academic partners:
Melissa DeNomie, MS, Family and Community Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Assessed barriers and incentives for Milwaukee corner store owners to stock healthier food inventory, conducting interviews with store owners and surveys of consumer shopping habits, reviewing City of Milwaukee food inspection and neighborhood services policies to identify key findings and inform project planning and implementation

• Strengthened partnerships between neighborhood partners, the City of Milwaukee Health Department, and Medical College of Wisconsin to support cross-sector collaboration

• Conducted demonstration projects in three corner stores, acquiring equipment for store infrastructure improvements to support expansion of healthy food options

• Conducted evaluation with store owners, identifying positive reports from participation that included: Increased skills in storing and displaying fresh produce, increased customers, and the acquisition of business development resources. Store owners also identified additional challenges to inform future projects, including the need to increase marketing, improve store's access to produce, ensure ability to process WIC payments, identify maintenance support for storage coolers, as well as a need to increase technical assistance from the local health department for safe, healthy food storage

• Identified systematic evidence of best practices to promote healthy food access that maximizes economic health benefits, sharing findings through various meetings and events, including the American Public Health Association, Community Campus Partnerships for Health, and Wisconsin Local Food Summit

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