For well over a decade the discussion about food deserts has ensued with politicians, NGOs, and just about everyone else urging and in some cases forcing supermarkets to open in areas where frankly they can’t survive economically.
The concept is that if a supermarket opens there will be an abundance of healthier and fresh food options that would help a community’s health profile. With few exceptions that hasn’t worked.
In 2015, Minneapolis became the first city in the U.S. to require food-gas marts and convenience stores to stock certain types and quantities of healthy foods.
A new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health evaluated the effectiveness of the policy and found stores have increased the availability of healthy foods offered over the past five years.
The researchers evaluated the healthy food selection based on availability, price, quality, product placement and other measures. They also interviewed customers about their purchasing choices and the foods they currently have at home.
Here is what they found:
She also added that "People don't normally expect to find healthy food in convenience stores, so they wouldn't make it a point to stop in there to buy those kinds of foods."
So it’s not about accessibility – its about changing behaviors.