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An Evaluation of a Neighborhood-Level Intervention to a Local Food Environment

  • Kimberly B. Morland
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Kimberly B. Morland, PhD, MPH, Department of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1057, New York NY 10029
    Affiliations
    Department of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
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      Background

      The impact of local availability of healthy foods on dietary intake and health has been established. Interventions to local environments are being evaluated for their efficacy and sustainability.

      Purpose

      The aim of this paper is to provide an evaluation of a community-driven approach to transform neighborhood healthy food availability.

      Methods

      The information provided comes from minutes of monthly meetings of the partners, newsletters, media, and other store and project documentation. In addition, qualitative interviews with key stakeholders and co-op members were conducted. All of the participating individuals were interviewed during 2008 and analysis took place in 2010. Each interview was audio-taped and transcribed to form verbatim transcripts, then content analyzed for themes.

      Results

      The implementation phase of the initiative had long-standing negative repercussions on the ability of the store to be successful because of renting too large a space; not branding the store early; early misperceptions by community members about the store; and the changing of organizational partners and personnel, which resulted in a lack of leadership for the store. Equally important, the lack of project personnel or consultants with business experience directly related to operating a food store reverberated into issues related to marketing, price structuring, decisions about stocking the store, as well as accounting.

      Conclusions

      Repercussions of these challenges included unmet goals in terms of attracting local residents to become members of the co-op, low sales levels, and reduced confidence in the long-term sustainability of the food cooperative. Approaches to modifications of local food environments are likely to require additional resources beyond funding in order to secure positive outcomes.
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