A small change in local corner store licensing laws will make healthier choices easier for entire communities.
Imagine that your community took a novel step in the name of public health. Under new licensing requirements, all stores selling food and beverages – including mini-marts and corner stores – must devote a certain amount of store space to produce and other healthy staple foods, and they have to limit the amount dedicated to sugary drinks and alcohol.
ChangeLab Solutions has developed a groundbreaking model ordinance to help other communities nationwide set a healthy baseline for all retail outlets that sell foods and beverages. Inspired by the successful use of licensing laws to reduce tobacco sales to young people, our new Model Licensing Ordinance for Healthy Food Retailers provides a new policy option – with broad reach, enforceable standards, and a financially secure foundation – for improving healthy food access in communities.
It will take more than stepping up licensing standards to create healthy and safe neighborhoods, but this strategy represents a step in the right direction. Encouraging families to eat better is pointless if healthier foods are out of reach, and protecting public health is a basic government responsibility.
ChangeLab Solutions’ healthy food systems work focuses on creating strategies that support the delivery of fresh, affordable and nutritious foods to communities across the nation, with a special emphasis on low-income communities and communities of color. As a founder of the national Healthy Corner Stores Network, we provide resources for business owners seeking to adopt a retail model that increases healthy food options and decreases reliance on tobacco, alcohol, and junk food; we partner with community advocates, helping them develop and implement policies that support fiscally feasible and sustainable mechanisms for healthy food delivery, including policies that support urban agriculture, community gardens, farmers markets, healthy vending and procurement strategies; and we provide technical assistance and training to help communities attract economic development funding and other assistance in support of healthy food retail initiatives.