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What can we learn from California’s investment in the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program?

  • Program: Food and Nutrition
  • Introduction Lack of refrigeration equipment in corner stores is reported as a leading barrier to stocking fresh fruits and vegetables. The California legislature funded the Department of Agriculture (CDFA) to offer a Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, providing grants to corner stores in food resource poor neighborhoods to purchase refrigeration units, to increase stocking of California-grown fruits and vegetables. Methods We used a mixed-methods approach including: 1) pre/post surveys of participating stores that assessed produce procurement, stocking, sales, and produce characteristics; 2) pre/post in-depth interviews with a subsample of storeowners to provide perspective on their experiences with the program; and 3) surveys of small cross sectional samples of customers at stores where in-depth interviews were conducted to gather information about their shopping experiences and produce purchases before and after the refrigerators were installed. Results 51 stores completed baseline and follow-up surveys. 97% of storeowners reported having a positive experience with the grant program. One storeowner remarked, “It was excellent. It was painless, easy and simple.” From baseline to follow up, fewer storeowners reported lack of refrigeration as a barrier to stocking fresh produce. At follow up, the majority of storeowners reported an intention to continue stocking the CDFA refrigerator with whole fresh fruits and vegetables, and reported an intention to increase the quantity and variety of produce they sell. Customers reported purchasing higher quantities of fruits and vegetables at follow up. Storeowners reported mixed impacts of the CDFA refrigerator on sales, but data collection occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, which affected produce sales and prices. Discussion Providing funds to corner stores in food resource poor neighborhoods to purchase refrigerators appeals to stores and leads to perceived increased availability of fresh produce.
Carolyn Chelius
Nutrition Policy Institute
Project Policy Analyst
  • Linked Session ID: 941026
  • Authors: Carolyn Chelius, Wendi Gosliner, PhD, Caroline Long, Taylor Baisey
    Nutrition Policy Institute
  • Learning Outcome 1: List three benefits storeowners reported to their businesses and communities related to receiving grant funding to purchase new refrigeration equipment.
  • Learning Outcome 2: Describe three barriers to selling fresh local fruits and vegetables storeowners reported were alleviated by California’s Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program.
  • Learning Outcome 3: Identify two ongoing barriers stores reported to stocking and selling fresh local fruits and vegetables.
  • Linked Session Title: Improving Health and Nutrition: Does Community Action Lead to Success?