The Healthy Corner Stores Project – a project that looks to improve the quality of food on local stores’ shelves and to spur consumers to make more health-conscious choices when they go grocery shopping launched in Mastic Beach in 2014 and has expanded into Medford in 2016.
The project targets communities that typically lack access to fresh, healthy and affordable food options.
Not only does it provide shoppers with smarter choices but also increases those selections’ popularity by re-configuring products and the display space in Suffolk County Food Policy Council’s partner stores, Neighborhood Country Market in Mastic Beach and Weir’s Community Market in Medford. The project is an effort of the Suffolk County Food Policy Council’s Food Equity Subcommittee (chaired by Sustainable Long Island).
Kick-off events held at both stores featured free tastings of a healthy, easy-to-make snacks, tips for healthy eating and recipes, and surveys to better understand what shoppers look for in a corner store. In Mastic Beach free lunches for children were offered as part of Island Harvest’s Free Summer Meals Program, as well as $1-off coupons for low-fat and fat-free milk.
The four partner groups – which is composed of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Island Harvest, the county’s Office of Minority Health and Sustainable Long Island – promotes the production and distribution of locally grown food and works to expand residents’ access to nutritious foods at retailers countywide. The group is working with store owners to make additional changes moving forward.