Robles, B.; Barragan, N.; Smith, B.; Caldwell, J.; Shah, D.; Kuo, T.
As part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) in Los Angeles County (LAC), corner store conversions (CSCs) were an integral part of a broader, more coordinated effort to improve nutrition and to prevent obesity in low-income populations. To date, little is known about this experience in LAC. The present study addresses this gap by describing lessons learned from implementing the SNAP-Ed Small Corner Store Project (SCSP) in this region. The project, which began in 2013, sought to scale CSCs in underserved communities of LAC, employing behavioral economics (e.g., prominently displaying healthy foods at checkout aisles or using in-store signage to promote healthy options) to encourage patron selection of healthier food items. Results from an assessment of the SCSP suggest that for CSCs to do well, careful considerations should be given to factors such as time (e.g., amount of staff time dedicated to the effort), staff capacity (e.g., # staff available to assist), and available resources that can be leveraged (e.g., support from community-based organizations). For some stores, inadequate food distribution or a lack of capital improvement infrastructure (e.g., refrigeration for fresh produce/storage of excess food that can be repurposed) were key barriers that required additional funding. Although local efforts that incentivize small businesses to undergo CSCs may initially nudge store owners to participate, increasing overall consumer demand for healthier food products (i.e., so as to help maintain sales volume) remains a key to sustaining store conversions long after SNAP-Ed resources are gone. © 2019 The Authors