Objective: In response to recent national efforts to increase the availability of healthy food in small stores, we sought to understand the extent to which small food stores could implement the newly published Healthy Small Store Minimum Stocking Recommendations and reflect on the new US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service's final rule for stocking of staple foods for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–approved retailers. Design: We collected qualitative and quantitative data from 57 small stores in four states (Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, and North Carolina) that accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program but not Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children benefits. Data from semistructured, in-depth interviews with managers/owners were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. We collected quantitative store inventory data onsite and later performed descriptive analyses. Results: Store interviews revealed a reluctant willingness to stock healthy food and meet new recommendations. No stores met recommended fruit and vegetable stocking, although 79% carried at least one qualifying fruit and 74% carried at least one qualifying vegetable. Few stores met requirements for other food categories (ie, whole grains and low-fat dairy) with the exception of lean proteins, where stores carrying nuts or nut butter were more likely to meet the protein recommendation. Water and 100% juice were widely available and 68% met basic healthy beverage criteria. Conclusions: In contrast to the inventory observed, most owners believed store stock met basic recommendations. Further, findings indicate that small stores are capable of stocking healthy products; however, technical and infrastructure support, as well as incentives, would facilitate shifts from staple to healthier staple foods. Retailers may need support to understand healthier product criteria and to drive consumer demand for new products.
- Corner store
- Food policy
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)