The Health Behavior News Service
recently reported on a new study which revealed that the presence of a food retailer and its quantity of its fresh produce offerings influences the amount of fruits and vegetables that are eaten daily in inner city markets.
According to the study, which appears in the March-April issue of the “American Journal of Health Promotion,” this presents an opportunity for independent grocers, since they can improve access to healthy foods in markets that supermarket chains don’t enter. Indeed, having a large grocery store in the neighborhood increased its average fruit and vegetable intake by 0.69 servings per day, the study found.
This was especially prevalent in Hispanic markets; Hispanic consumers in these areas ate 2.2 more servings daily than did African-Americans, the study found.
Several independents, such as Pro’s Ranch Markets, have discovered the value of inner-city customers. In fact, Michael A. Provenzano Sr., president and CEO of Pro's Ranch Markets, was named the recipient of the first Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, at the recent National Grocers Association (NGA) convention last month for his success in serving Hispanic markets. (Click here to see the full story.
But there's still room for improvement, according to a report released last fall by PolicyLink, a national nonprofit research and advocacy organization. The report, Healthy Food, Healthy Communities: Improving Access and Opportunities Through Food Retailing, cites the higher incidence of obesity-related health problems among people of color, and urges action from policymakers and business leaders to "make it easier for Californians to make healthy choices."
This study looked at three neighborhoods in one city and compared data on fruit and vegetable intake of adults across multiple racial and ethnic groups. The researcher also took availability, affordability, variety and quality of fresh produce and store location into account.
So the question remains: What are you doing to address the need for more fresh produce in urban areas?