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Baltimore Healthy Stores (BHS)

Core Elements

This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention’s effectiveness.  Core elements are critical features of the intervention’s intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted. 

  1. Creating a program identity:  Customers should recognize the program’s name and/or logo and associate program materials with healthier food choices; e.g. shelf labels paired with certain products indicate healthier food choices.  The program logo appears on all print materials, including posters, flyers and educational displays.

  2. Recruitment of small store owners:  In urban settings, the ethnic and cultural background of store owners is frequently different from their primary customer base.  Different strategies have been used successfully to recruit store owners to participate in a healthy corner stores program.  In the BHS intervention, the majority of small store owners were Korean Americans who belonged to a local chapter of the Korean American Grocers Association (KAGRO).  BHS developers established a collaborative relationship with KAGRO which agreed to send a letter of support and program materials to individual store owners.  For Korean-owned stores, BHS recruiters were Korean-speaking. It was determined that personal contact to recruit store owners should ideally be made by someone with whom store owners identify culturally and who speaks their native language.

  3. Support and education for store owners: Once store owners have been recruited, they will need support and education to successfully participate in the program. Providing nutrition education for store owners can help them personally and professionally.  BHS provided store owners with specific guidelines for stocking and preparing healthier food options, and cultural guidelines to encourage positive interaction between store owners and their customers.

  4. Stocking healthy foods: Small stores may need help to purchase and stock specific minimum quantities of promoted foods.  This can be done a) by providing store owners with a wholesaler gift card to purchase a small stock of the promoted items and/or b) by providing the store owners with small amounts of the target foods for promotion.  In BHS, many store owners would stock the promoted food on their own, without additional incentives, once they had done this for 1-2 rounds of the intervention. 

  5. Promotion of healthy products through culturally relevant signage:  Develop a social marketing campaign that uses culturally appropriate nutrition messages.  As part of the campaign, create and display program materials such as shelf labels, flyers, and posters to help increase demand for, and consumption of, healthy products stocked in stores.  Focus groups, community workshops and/or interviews with customers and community members are critical steps in the development of culturally-relevant materials.

  6. Tailoring program activities to target venues: Small stores vary in size and layout.  When designing program activities, consider the organizational layout and space of each participating store and develop strategies in accordance with each store owner’s wishes.  A collaborative partnership with store owners is essential for program buy-in and sustainability.

  7. Nutrition education and client interaction: Customer interest to try healthy products can be built by providing opportunities to taste new foods and products through cooking demonstrations and taste tests.  Spend time in the stores encouraging people to try new products and answering questions about nutrition and the purpose of the healthy stores project. Customer interaction is crucial to the success of the program.