New-Orleans-corner-store-hopes-to-turn-a-healthier-profit

New Orleans corner store hopes to turn a healthier profit

New Orleans corner store hopes to turn a healthier profit
Fitting New Orleans – Issue 1
Feb. 9, 2009

Years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city’s already inadequate number of food providers, many New Orleanians are still doing the majority of their grocery shopping at local corner stores where high-calorie snacks are plentiful and healthy choices are virtually nonexistent.

Two reasons New Orleans residents who shop at corner stores purchase such unhealthy items are because they are available and most prominently displayed. The real question a financial case study by the Prevention Research Center (PRC) at Tulane University aims to answer is what drives local storeowners to stock calorie-dense foods instead of healthier items.

Numerous studies suggest that good nutrition can be promoted by increasing the availability of healthy foods. The PRC study will go beyond such research by exploring what, if any impact replacing calorie-dense foods with healthier options like fruits and vegetables has on one New Orleans corner store’s profits.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the PRC study is working with a corner store in the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans with the goal of developing strategies for stores to increase the sales of healthy items and reduce the sales of unhealthy items while maintaining or increasing profits.

The PRC has been tracking sales and doing complete monthly inventories of the corner store since January, 2009. Once completed, a group of business, financial and community experts will analyze this data and develop recommendations for healthy changes to store inventory to be made in June/July, 2009. Data on the financial impact of these changes will be monitored for six months.

A report describing the impact of increasing healthy food items and decreasing unhealthy items on store profits and customer satisfaction will be released in summer 2010. The findings of this study will provide much needed guidance to public health professionals as they develop strategies to reduce obesity in New Orleans by increasing residents’ access to healthy foods.

The magnitude of the obesity epidemic demands that everyone get behind the quest to improve the lifestyles of all New Orleanians. This study will provide food store owners in low-income neighborhoods in New Orleans with information on how they can better their customer’s health while maintaining if not increasing their profit in these troubling economic times.

Topics:   nutrition , obesity , food environment

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