AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

February 10, 2017

MU Extension's Stock Healthy Shop Healthy
comes to Branson West and Forsyth

BRANSON, Mo. — Many of America's neighborhoods lack a reliable source of fresh, nutritional food. Neighborhood residents may be motivated to feed their families healthy foods, but may find that the smaller stores they rely on have fewer and lower quality healthy foods. When available, fresh healthy food may be priced at a premium - keeping it out of reach.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that 52.5 million people in the U.S., 17 percent of the population, had limited access to a full-service supermarket. This situation has been shown to contribute to chronic health conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

"By encouraging small food retailers to sell more healthy foods and supporting them in their efforts, communities can become healthier places for everyone," said Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

MU Extension, Stone County Health Department, Taney County Health Department, and the Country Mart Grocers in both Forsyth and Branson West are working together to make more healthy food available in the community.

Using evidence-based research and MU Extension's Stock Healthy Shop Healthy program, a partnership has been formed to improve community access to healthy food options.

"The program is based on research demonstrating effective strategies for addressing such community food access and health issues. One important strategy is to work with local retailers and also educate community residents at the same time," said Duitsman.

Participating Country Mart stores will be implementing in-store strategies to improve the quality and type of healthy, affordable foods they stock. The partnership offers support for their efforts.

The Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy Retailer toolkit offers the grocer information on healthful food items; guidelines for handling and storing produce; tips for displaying and merchandising healthy inventory; strategies for profiting from healthy food sales; and ideas for promotion and marketing. This toolkit is a compilation of helpful practices used by small food retailers in healthy grocery programs across the country.

Printable signs including shelf-talkers, door-hangers and posters, and additional marketing materials are included in the toolkit.

"Community residents will be learning that healthy, affordable foods are now available in the community, and will be educated on how to properly prepare healthy foods and incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their lifestyle," said Duitsman.

A series of nutrition education classes will be taught by professionals in the MU Extension Family Nutrition Education Program. Some nutrition education and taste tests will also occur in the store itself.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is providing funding for this project. Project partners completed training through MU Extension in December 2016, and began implementing the program shortly after.

"We are excited about this partnership to increase awareness around healthy eating and active living in Stone and Taney Counties," said Monica Spittler, from the Stone County Health Department.

"Through Stock Healthy Shop Healthy, we hope to help local grocery stores make it easier for their patrons to select healthy choices," says Lisa Marshall of Taney County Health Department. "It's really all about working together to create a healthy community."

Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy is a comprehensive, community-based program that allows communities to improve access to healthy, affordable foods by working with a small food retailer. Through toolkits, resources and webinars, Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy will guide any community through a unique approach to increasing access to healthy foods that involves engaging small food retailers and community members, and thus addresses supply and demand at the same time.

Source: Dr. Pam Duitsman, (417) 874-2957

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