Engaging with convenience stores for healthier food provision: what works?

Engaging with convenience stores for healthier food provision: what works?

Engaging with convenience stores for healthier food provision: what works?

Monica Foss, Samantha Royston, Mary Atkinson, Corinna Hawkes

In the UK, convenience stores play an important part in shaping diets. They are often found at the centre of communities and in areas with few other food shops, which makes them convenient for everyone and essential for those with limited mobility due to age, disability or income. Unfortunately, however, they are not often associated with healthy food provision. To increase the availability of healthy foods, we therefore need to engage with the people who run convenience stores, to persuade them to sell more healthy options.

But what works when it comes to approaching and supporting convenience store operators to provide healthier foods in their stores? And what motivates the retailers to join healthy food initiatives and stay committed? What makes it worth their while?

To answer these questions, we first reviewed the academic literature on healthy retail initiatives. We then interviewed convenience store operators and the practitioners who worked with them on three healthy food initiatives, two in London and one in Scotland.

The Evidence Review presents our findings. The Guidance Note summarises our recommendations for effective engagement.

About the authors

Monica new

Monica Foss

Monica Foss is an alumna of the Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London. She completed the Masters in Food Policy in 2018 and then worked for the Food Research Collaboration as a Graduate Intern from November 2018 until February 2019. She currently works as a Fairtrade Supply Chain Coordinator at Equal Exchange.

Samantha Royston

Samantha Royston has just graduated from Warwick University with an MSc in Sustainable Crop Production. Previously she has worked in sustainability consultancy, with a particular interest in sustainable and healthy food. She is currently working in the Food Standards Agency, as an analyst in the National Food Crime Unit.

Mary Atkinson

Mary is the Coordinator for the Food Research Collaboration and leads on the FRC workstream to support sustainable food at the local level. She is a Masters graduate of Food Policy at City, University of London (2012) and Nutrition at King’s College, University of London (1989).

Before joining the FRC, she was a food security and nutrition specialist for a number of NGOs and UN agencies in the international humanitarian sector, which took her to many parts of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Prior to this, Mary worked as a nutritionist in the UK, mostly in academic research and teaching at Glasgow University, King’s College London, London Metropolitan University and the University of Malawi. She also worked for the Department of Health and as a volunteer for Sustain in the 1990s.

Mary is Secretary of Hackney Food Partnership, through which she set up and was the Coordinator of, Sugar Smart Hackney in 2017/18. More recently, she initiated Hackney Food Poverty Alliance and the subsequent development of a Food Poverty Action Plan for Hackney.  She cycles most places, is a keen cook and is particularly partial to funky jazz grooves.

Corinna Hawkes

Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy. She joined the Centre in January 2016 bringing with her a diversity of international experience at the interface between policy and research. She has worked with international agencies, governments, NGOs, think tanks and universities at the international level, as well as nationally and locally in the UK, United States and Brazil.

A regular advisor to governments, international agencies and NGOs, her specialism is the role of food systems policies in what we eat and how they can be levered for positive impact. Corinna serves as Co-Chair of the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report, an international report tracking progress in malnutrition in all its forms across the globe. She sits on the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, the Lancet Commission on Obesity, the London Food Board and is Vice-Chair of the Mayor of London’s Child Obesity Taskforce.

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