The Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition (KCP4H) is tackling food systems—and access to healthy food—in northern Kentucky. The coalition integrates planning and public health to support healthy, vibrant communities for the 40,000 residents living just south of Cincinnati.
Building on the momentum of early Plan4Health activities and the recent success of the Eat Healthy NKY campaign, the KCP4H coalition is increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods in the City of Covington—with plans to engage community members and key stakeholders across the county.
The healthy corner store pilot program has been a successful Plan4Health outcome, with target stores in Covington redesigning the layout of stores, upgrading store equipment, and leveraging community engagement efforts to make the healthy choice easier for community members of all ages.
One of these store owners is Mark Apseloff of Kimmy’s Korner. Mark strives to serve his customers and the greater community on a daily basis, which is why he was eager to partner with KCP4H and join the corner store pilot program—and why he has worked to test a variety of improvements and programs with his customers.
“The healthy bucks program [wooden nickels redeemable for a healthy snack] was a very successful promotion,” notes Mark, “I even added healthy bucks to bananas to reward customers for making a healthy purchase and to encourage them to come back for more.”
Mark and the coalition, however, did much more than just promote healthy options. The team worked to build on the improvements that Mark had already started when he became the new owner of Kimmy’s Korner. While Mark had brightened the interior of the store, the coalition leveraged another grant opportunity to add a mural over the healthy food options—and worked with Mark to identify new shelving and refrigeration options.
Mark strives to meet WIC program requirements, making sure his customers are able to use their benefits and get the nutritious food they need. And, Kimmy’s Korner has recipe cards and nutrition information available throughout the store in eye-catching colors. It’s not just about making sure a banana is the first thing you see when you’re having a special promotion. It’s a holistic effort to make it easier to make a healthy choice—and that’s exactly what Mark and the coalition have done.
“Plan4Health has given us a chance to test out a range of ideas. It’s not a one-size-fits-all program. We need to respect the unique needs of each store and build trust between ourselves, the store owners, and the community members,” says Rachel Hastings, Program Director, with The Center for Great Neighborhoods.
“The corner store program also gives us an opportunity to celebrate the ‘mom and pop’ stores in Covington. These corner store owners are mainstays of the community, but are often overlooked—and we’re excited to support these entrepreneurs and support our community to make healthier choices,” Rachel adds.
The coalition is continuing to work with corner store owners and community members, making sure that changes supported through Plan4Health will be part of the store environment beyond the grant period.
Check out the four mini-webinars from Kenton County in the Peer Learning Network to learn more about how to implement a corner store program in your community—and stay tuned for another update in August 2016.
All images from Kenton County Plan4Health coalition and Plan4Health staff.