Healthy Corner Stores NL

Healthy Corner Stores NL

84% of our communities do not have a full-service grocery store, and rely heavily on their corner stores for food. This project was created to improve the offering of healthy, affordable food in such communities, by enhancing the selection of food in rural corner stores.

The Need for Healthy Corner Stores in NL

84% of communities in Newfoundland and Labrador do not have a full-service grocery store. Residents of these communities rely on the food offerings at local corner stores, or, transportation to nearby communities to purchase food.

Not everyone can access transportation.

As a result, corner stores are pivotal players in the kind of food that is most readily available in many rural communities. They stock a range of items like groceries, snacks, and other products for everyday use, but the shelves at convenience stores tend to be stocked based on long shelf-life and low wastage.

That means fresher, healthier foods are hard to come by.

With so many people in Newfoundland & Labrador relying on corner stores for food, Food First NL is aiming to make it good business sense for corner stores to improve their selection of healthy, affordable, higher-quality food.

Doing so would positively impact the store owner’s sales and breadth of offerings, while improving community health. The project is a partnership between Food First NL, regional nutritionists at Eastern Health, and Dr. Catherine Mah at the Food Policy Lab at Memorial University.

Rural stores have a long history of serving as community hubs. A healthy corner store strengthens that role, and needs good public policy supports to do so. Some of our policy research has looked at how entrepreneurs are inclined to support each other to grow their collective potential, rather than seeing each other as direct competitors. This, together with small store owners’ capacity to innovate and respond to the local market, represents a wealth of possibility for building a healthier, more equitable, and resilient food system in NL.
— Dr. Cathy Mah, Food Policy Lab, Memorial University

Pilot Project: Careen’s Convinience

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In the spring of 2015, Careen's Convenience, run by Vivian and Gary Careen in the Cape Shore community of Branch, was announced as the pilot store for the project.

Health Canada provided seed funding to support a store makeover, including renovations, marketing support, and food and nutrition education to staff.

By the end of the intervention, Careen's had a deli counter from which to serve its new line of healthy, store-made items to go, like salads, soups, sandwiches, and fruit and vegetable trays.

Careen’s Convenience officially became the first Healthy Corner Store in NL.

2016: Pick Me Up Campaign

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In 2016, the team took efforts one step further, with the launch of the Pick Me Up campaign.

Pick Me Up is a healthy retail branding campaign that promotes prepared food products and other healthier options over less healthy alternatives, through effective merchandising in corner stores.

Bright and colourful messaging inform customers of a store's healthier options.  The results have been promising.