Rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Kentucky's Cumberland Valley region are among the highest in the United States and limited access to healthy food contributes to these epidemics. The aim of Healthy2Go (H2G), a country store transformation project launched by Spread the Health Appalachia (STHA), was to improve awareness and availability of healthy options in small, rural stores. Ten country stores participated in H2G and received training and technical assistance to increase availability and awareness of healthy foods. Stores made inventory changes; installed point-of-purchase educational and in-store marketing materials directing shoppers to healthier options; provided nutrition education such as healthy recipes; and altered the display and location of healthy items. To measure changes within stores and the potential impact on resident eating and purchasing habits, STHA used four instruments: a modified version of the Nutrition Environs Measures Survey – Corner Stores at baseline and follow-up, a bimonthly store inventory assessment, a final store owner survey, and a Community Nutrition Survey at baseline (n = 287) and follow-up (n = 281). The stores in the H2G program (n = 10) had a 40% increase in stocking fresh produce, a 20% increase in produce variety, and trends towards increasing healthy inventory. During the same period, surveyed residents reported a statistically significant increase in the frequency of healthy food consumption. Small store transformation programs can improve availability of and access to healthy food in rural settings and influence local purchasing patterns.
Rushakoff, J. A., Zoughbie, D. E., Bui, N., DeVito, K., Makarechi, L., & Kubo, H. (2017). Evaluation of Healthy2Go: A country store transformation project to improve the food environment and consumer choices in Appalachian Kentucky. Preventive Medicine Reports, 7, 187–192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.06.009