Washoe County Health District partners with local stores to incentivize healthier food options

by | Apr 18, 2022

April 18, 2022. Reno/Sparks, NV – The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) has partnered with three local stores for a pilot program aimed to increase selection of healthy foods that residents in underserved communities can access. The Healthy Corner Store project better known as Grab Healthy is a collaboration with store owners to stock and market healthy foods in neighborhood corner stores.

Participating corner stores were selected based on data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Access Research Atlas, acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), distance from a grocery store and store owner interest. The three participating stores in the pilot project include:

  • 7-Eleven – 1770 Sutro St. Reno, NV 89512
  • Reno Food & Discount Liquor – 1123 E 6th Reno, NV 89512
  • Vassar Market – 1870 Vassar St. Reno, NV 89502

Many people in these areas face barriers to accessing healthy food such as living far away from food retailers that offer healthier options and having less access to a car or other transportation to get to stores.

“Corner stores have the potential to improve the health disparities associated with the lack of healthy food access in underserved neighborhoods,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer in Washoe County. “This is a step in the right direction to improving chronic illness which is connected to health barriers such as access to healthy foods.”

In 2020, data showed that 22.5% of males and 26.3% of women suffered from obesity in Washoe County. Furthermore, during the 2018-2019 school year, 18.8% of Washoe County students were categorized as obese. Obesity rates are typically higher in Title I schools, which service a high percentage of students from low-income families; many living near convenience corner stores.

WCHD provides store owners and managers guidance on what foods to purchase, marketing and training materials, and bins to display the healthy foods; the store owners/managers are then responsible for the purchase of the products.

While the type of healthier food products each stores offers varies, all stores now carry a variety of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, with the long-term goal of carrying fresh fruits and vegetables for their customers.

“We participated in the program because most of our customers that we serve are older and live in neighborhoods nearby,” said Marizaman Mari, Vassar Market owner since 2012. “We are concerned about their health and that is why we try to stock healthy foods for them.”

The Grab Healthy initiative began in June 2021. WCHD is optimistic to grow the program and get more stores involved. Staff are working to recruit additional stores to participate in the program in the coming months. Store owners/managers interested in participating in the Healthy Corner Store project, can contact Amanda Santos at 775-328-2474, email arsantos@washoecounty.gov, or visit https://www.washoecounty.gov/health/programs-and-services/cchs/chronic-disease-prevention/Community-tools/HCS.php.

For additional information about the program please visit GetHealthyWashoe.com.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.