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The North Carolina Legislature appropriated funds in 2016–2019 for the Healthy Food Small Retailer Program (HFSRP), providing small retailers located in food deserts with equipment to stock nutrient-dense foods and beverages. The study aimed to: (1) examine factors facilitating and constraining implementation of, and participation in, the HFSRP from the perspective of storeowners and (2) measure and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of investment in the HFSRP.
The current analysis uses both qualitative and quantitative assessments of storeowner perceptions and store outcomes, as well as two innovative measures of policy investment effectiveness. Qualitative semi-structured interviews and descriptive quantitative approaches, including monthly financial reports and activity forms, and end-of-programme evaluations were collected from participating HFSRP storeowners.
Eight corner stores in North Carolina that participated in the two cohorts (2016–2018; 2017–2019) of the HFSRP.
Owners of corner stores participating in the HFSRP.
All storeowners reported that the HFSRP benefitted their stores. In addition, the HFSRP had a positive impact on sales across each category of healthy food products. Storeowners reported that benefits would be enhanced with adjustments to programme administration and support. Specific suggestions included additional information regarding which healthy foods and beverages to stock; inventory management; handling of perishable produce; product display; modified reporting requirements and a more efficient process of delivering and maintaining equipment.
All storeowners reported several benefits of the HFSRP and would recommend that other storeowners participate. The barriers and challenges they reported inform potential approaches to ensuring success and sustainability of the HFSRP and similar initiatives underway in other jurisdictions.