Health on the Corner: Landmark Healthy Corner Store Policy Adopted

Baldwin Park, CA

For years, the residents of Baldwin Park, CA, have strived to make good food easily accessible in their city. To formalize this effort, the community mobilized to analyze local food systems, assess residents’ eating preferences and patterns, and develop potential solutions.

According to a study completed by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), Baldwin Park has six corner stores and liquor stores for every supermarket or farmers’ market. The prevalence and popularity of corner stores in the city made them obvious partners in the effort to increase access to healthy foods. In 2008, CCPHA, the Baldwin Park Resident Advisory Committee (BPRAC), and their partners began working with 14 stores to establish the Healthy Selection Program; this project ultimately helped several corner stores transform into purveyors of healthy items.

The program also led to policy research and development. In 2012, the Baldwin Park Healthy Corner Store Policy was drafted to help local corner store owners provide and promote healthy foods, limit youth exposure to negative advertising, and adjust floor plans to encourage healthy choices.

The policy has since evolved into its adopted form. It now incorporates several policy elements from ChangeLab Solutions’ Health on the Shelf toolkit, including a three-tiered, incentive-based approach to guide and encourage store owners’ participation. The voluntary program is flexible and business-friendly, but it doesn’t lack teeth – the policy outlines best practices for implementation, facilitation, and enforcement. Additionally, it supports active collaboration between store owners and the larger community.

On August 20, 2014, the city council unanimously adopted the Baldwin Park Healthy Corner Store Policy. As the first administrative policy of its kind in California, it is a shining example for localities that may consider corner stores barriers to good health rather than community allies.

“As a resident, I am happy to see the adoption of a policy that will improve our corner stores and the health of our residents,” explained Claudia Pila, Baldwin Park Resident Advisory Committee Leader. “We will continue to work with owners and stores to find ways to improve their businesses. We will progress as a community.”

Baldwin Park resident Isabel Montañez was equally enthusiastic. “By making families more aware of the healthy choices associated with food, exercise, and overall health, a thriving community will excel. We believe in this Healthy Corner Store Policy. It’s a win-win for all of us here in Baldwin Park.”

To learn more about the healthy retail environment or to receive technical assistance on healthy retail policies, contact ChangeLab Solutions policy analyst Rio Holaday. For more information on how communities can make neighborhood stores healthier, check out our model ordinance and guide for licensing healthy food retailers, Licensing for Lettuce, and our new healthy corner store infographic, Check Out Healthy Retail.

Photo credit: Concepcion Gonzalez