For Community Health
More than 75% of people in the United States live within five miles of a Dollar General, and that number will grow as the retail chain opens three stores per day. Local Food Solutions is a community-created and driven project with the aim of stocking locally, sustainably grown produce and healthy food products into four dollar stores in the South Valley and International District of Albuquerque – and as a result – increasing health and community wealth for its people.
Agri-Cultura Network (ACN) works with over 40 local farmers growing fruits and vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, salad greens, and apples, and producing healthy value-added products like fresh salsas and baby foods. They are USDA Harmonized GAP+ Certified and ready to serve anchor institutions in the community. To learn more and place orders contact Agri-Cultura.
Healthy retail initiatives like the Local Food Solutions dollar store project can benefit the health of our community, and hospitals can play an important role in this shaping of community food environments by changing what food is available and promoted to consumers and bolstering new business models that foster community health and healthy food access.
Hospitals across the country are leading the way and lending their support to healthy retail by:
Providing staff time to coordinate initiatives - Lancaster General Health leads the Neighborhood Healthy Food Initiative. The hospital recruits stores, conducts baseline assessments, provides technical assistance to store owners, and implements consumer education.
Providing resources and materials - Montefiore partners with local community-based organizations on “Adopt A Shop” activities aimed at improving nutrition education and connecting community members to local bodegas in order to drive demand for healthy products.
Providing support to coordinate produce incentive redemption at stores - Lehigh Valley Health Network staff coordinate the Heart Smarts screening program, as part of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Consumers who participate in health screenings and cooking demonstrations receive “heart bucks,” which can be redeemed at the store for healthy items.
" At First Choice Community Healthcare, we believe that being healthy involves more than just treating disease. By improving access to locally-grown produce and providing a boost to our South Valley farmers, we can begin a cycle of investing in our community's economy and its health!”
– Dr. Jesse Barnes
Benefits of partnership
The Local Food Solutions team has grant support and a committed group of local and national organizations working to make healthy, local food available at an increasingly common food access point: dollar stores. Joining this partnership would provide access to tailored support and connection to community leaders to increase your hospital’s local purchasing and advance the goals of your community health improvement plans.
A community-led healthy retail initiative can build health and economic wellbeing in the South Valley. Here are ways health care can drive change:
Advocating for Double Up Food Bucks - Writing letters of support or engaging in conversations with policymakers to support local advocacy efforts led by New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council, and Agri-Cultura Network to expand Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) redemption to locally produced, value-added products. The voice of health care professionals garners trust and carries weight within the community and with decision makers.
Leveraging hospital purchasing- Setting minimum local and sustainable food purchasing goals with a commitment to increasing purchases every year. Anchor institutions, like hospitals, can serve as models, demonstrating that local food procurement is possible, profitable, and replicable for commercial adoption by dollar stores.
Investing in community health - Expanding existing community health work by supporting produce prescriptions that can be redeemed at dollar stores, in-store health education and signage, and lending staff to help achieve these goals and track progress.
Local Food Solutions is a collaborative group that includes both local and national organizations: Agri-Cultura Network, Los Jardines Institute, Coming Clean, Health Care Without Harm, Natural Resources Defense Council, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, and Just Transition Alliance.