Oklahoma Spotlight: Healthy Food Options Offered at Local Convenience Store

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An Oklahoma City-area convenience store has become a hit for health. Sunny Express at 1809 S. Sunnylane Road in Del City has partnered with the local TSET Healthy Living Program (HLP) to stock nutritional food and display TSET HLP materials to promote healthy living. This relates to TSET HLP Outcome B5: “Improve the nutritional profile of foods offered in stores (grocery, convenient stores, etc.) and businesses”.  

How did you develop this idea?

This store was chosen as a partner for the HLP program because they are right across the street from Del City High School and always bustling with high school students. The owner, Santosh, liked the idea of offering the students healthier options, but did not know where to begin. A Food Availability and Marketing Survey (FAMS) was conducted. The goal of the survey is to examine food retail environments concerning stocking and marketing of healthful foods as well as promoting walking access to individual stores. The FAMS identifies the good things a store is already doing and can help recommend other helpful steps a business can take to make healthy options available. The biggest recommendation for Sunny Express was to offer fresh fruit at the checkout. The owner was interested in conducting a countertop survey to see if his customers would like having the option. Overwhelmingly, his customers who took the survey wanted to have fruits available. The HLP teamed up with the Wellness Now Physical Activity and Nutrition Coalition to offer the store $50 worth of fresh fruit under a memorandum of agreement. The TSET HLP provided a loaner shelf to display the fruit in, with the agreement that the coalition would fund a permanent shelf if the store chose to sell fruits indefinitely. Healthy Picks signage was also provided to help market the fruit sales. This created a risk-free opportunity for the store to participate.

This was the second store to participate in our “fruit pilot” as we have called it. We have extended the offer to other stores in Oklahoma County and would love to help create this positive change in other stores. It can be risky trying a new business strategy. Thinking outside of the box on how to reduce that risk for partner stores is key to our success. We hope to use this mindset and innovation in other areas as well.

What outcomes have been achieved?

“High schoolers visit this store very heavily,” said Lauran Larson, Business Coordinator with TSET HLP. “Kids love buying the fruit.” 

“The profit margin is good,” said Santosh Kumar, Sunny Express owner. “People like healthy options. It’s not a bad idea for everyone to do it.” 

Questions?

To learn more about this community partnership, or to get involved in bringing healthier options to the Oklahoma City area, contact Lauran Larson, Business Coordinator at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department at 405-419-4212 or lauran_larson@occhd.org.

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