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Health on the Shelf

Healthy small food retailer certification programs

Food & Beverages

In most communities, convenience stores are a common part of the retail landscape – and in many areas, both urban and rural, these stores are the only nearby places to buy food.

By establishing a healthy small food retailer program, government agencies and community-based organizations can support and give incentives to food retailers (including corner stores, bodegas, and rural markets) that are willing to sell healthy foods. Programs offer a range of materials and services to stores, from refrigeration equipment to technical assistance to vouchers for free fruits and vegetables.

ChangeLab Solutions developed this toolkit to create a strong healthy small food retailer certification program that requires participating stores to increase the variety of healthy foods they sell, reduce the offerings of unhealthy foods, and proactively market healthy options with help from a sponsoring agency or organization. It provides step-by-step instructions for developing a certification program, with ideas and examples from existing programs.

A healthy small food retailer program can also be a great first step toward policy strategies, such as enacting a local licensing law requiring store owners to stock healthier foods, or it can provide support for communities that have already implemented a healthy food retailer licensing ordinance. We also developed a companion Model Licensing Ordinance for Healthy Food Retailers, along with an accompanying guide that describes how the ordinance works and provides tips on how to implement it successfully in your community.