Researchers at University of Connecticut have been working with the Hartford Food System to encourage bodegas or corner stores in the city to stock healthier food.
UConn's research was funded by the Donaghue Foundation, which awarded UConn a 2-year $240,000 grant. Katie Martin is a Research Associate with UConn's Center for Public Health and Health Policy. She says 40 stores initially signed up to be a part of the project. Now researchers are evaluating data on how store owners benefitted from replacing 5% of their shelf space from junk food to healthier items.
"While we were doing this study, there was a federal policy change to the women infant and children program, and we found that the stores that are able to receive WIC coupons have made significant changes in availability of healthy foods over the past year, significantly more fruits, vegetables, more whole grains, high fiber cereal, and lowfat milk compared to non-WIC stores."
Martin says Hartford's program started in 2006. She says it was ahead of the curve because only in the past 2 years has the local food initative caught on in other U.S. communities who have made healthy food available at neighborhood corner stores.
Martha Page, Executive Director of the Hartford Food System, says the initiative is necessary because 30% of Hartford's residents don't own a car, and there is only one major supermarket within city limits.
For WNPR, I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil.