Three years ago, Troy used to go his local corner store to grab a soda and a bag of chips. Today, when he visits that same corner store in North Philadelphia he chooses an orange and a bottle of water.
Through the SNAP-Ed Heart Smarts program, Troy goes to his local corner store to meet with a nutrition educator. He also receives free blood pressure checks from local health care providers. He’s been getting checks on a monthly basis for the past three years.
“Since you [program staff] started coming,” Troy says, “my blood pressure and diet have been better. I’m eating healthier and drinking more water.”
In communities that lack supermarkets, many residents turn to local corner stores to meet their food needs. The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative began in 2004 to increase the availability of healthy foods in corner stores. The program also wanted people to learn what healthy foods are available. In 2010, the Heart Smarts program started doing nutrition education and health screenings in local corner stores.
The Heart Smarts program works with corner store owners to make sure they stock a variety of heart-healthy products. Customers can take part in a SNAP-Ed nutrition lesson in the corner store. Then, customers can also have their blood pressure checked by local health care partners.
Last year, Heart Smarts reached 5,000 participants in 50 corner stores. Among 497 people surveyed, 89% agreed with the statement “After today’s lesson, I feel like I know how to make healthy food or drink choices.
William, one Heart Smarts participant, recalls: “This is a great thing for the community. For a lot of older folks, it’s hard to get to the doctor. Not only is coming to the corner store easy, but now it’s great for our health.”