Swapping Hot Cheetos for Whole Wheat Bread: A Corner Store Redesign Swapping Hot Cheetos for Whole Wheat Bread: A Corner Store Redesign

Swapping Hot Cheetos for Whole Wheat Bread: A Corner Store Redesign

by Peter Lehner

July 14, 2013

Changing eating habits is perhaps the most challenging part of this work, but grassroots efforts involving youth leaders are making a difference. In California, West Oakland teenager James Berk used to drink two liters of soda a day and microwave burritos studded with snack chips were a major part of his diet. Concerned about his health after experiencing heart palpitations, dizziness, and fatigue, Berk joined a community activist group at age 16 and started Mandela Market, an organic food coop that is the first real grocery store in his community—and he's now its co-owner. Youth activists help bike in fresh produce from nearby minority-owned farms to the market, as well as to a few corner stores and liquor shops, where community members traditionally do most of their shopping.

In Baldwin Park, California, kids designed their own marketing campaign for healthy foods in convenience stores, including a logo to label healthy choices. In Philadelphia, Sandoval also works with Snackin’ Fresh, a youth-led initiative to spread the word about healthy eating, through a blog, comic books, and special labeling for healthy foods. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative started with just 11 stores in Philadelphia. Today, it’s a model for improving access to healthy food in communities across the country.

Sandoval helps lead the national Healthy Corner Stores Network, which provides resources and assistance to more than 700 members implementing similar programs across the country. She envisions a nationwide revamp of the corner store, transforming it from a quick pitstop for calorie-laden junk, to a valuable community asset—a place where kids and adults can find fresh, healthy food and a center for community engagement on issues of health and nutrition.

NRDC is working to move our food system toward sustainability, by changing the way we produce it—getting rid of toxic pesticides in crops, stopping the abuse of antibiotics in livestock production, and keeping contaminants out of food—and also by making the way we distribute and use food more efficient and less wasteful. An efficient, sustainable food system should make healthy food accessible to all communities, regardless of income. The redesigned corner store could be another important tool in the broader effort to transform our food system. And it’s working, one block at a time. 

Start taking ownership of your health with our DIY Health Check-up.
Images courtesy of NRDC/The Sawyer Agency
Recently on GOOD
Sign up to receive the best of GOOD delivered to your inbox each and every weekday
Swapping Hot Cheetos for Whole Wheat Bread: A Corner Store Redesign