East Los Angeles, California has been characterized as a "food desert," where residents have poor access to comprehensive grocery stores and foods recommended for a healthful and balanced diet. Poor dietary practice contributes to significant chronic disease disparities. East L.A. has over 96% Latino residents, of whom, most live in poverty. To address food access disparities, we will convert corner stores, a common venue for food purchasing in this community. We will test whether corner store conversions are feasible in East L.A. and also whether store conversions contribute to healthier communities. Using an ecological and community-based participatory approach, we will work with four corner store owners to enhance marketing practices, store food quality and sales, and community involvement. For these stores, local high school youth will create and distribute outreach and education materials for community members about healthy food purchasing, preparation and eating. Four unconverted corner stares and their neighborhoods will serve as comparison groups. The project's framework conceptualizes the corner store as a neighborhood asset that can support healthy food purchasing, preparation and eating behaviors among residents. The following four aims guide the research: 1) what factors are necessary to persuade and enable corner store owners to convert their stores;2) what are the best practices to market and promote corner stores in resource poor communities;3) what factors are related to the maintenance and sustainability of corner store conversions;and 4) what impact do corner store conversions have on the health behaviors of community residents. Formative research and evaluation will be used to assess project feasibility. Program monitoring will be used to assess study implementation. A multiple case study approach will be used to assess corner store adoption and maintenance. Outcome evaluation will use a quasi-experimental, comparison groups design with repeated cross-sectional surveys stratified by neighborhoods containing converted and control corner stores. We will survey 1,000 community residents, in two different waves, to assess outcomes. Studying how corner store conversions work and the impact they have on communities is an understudied facet of current public health disparities and intervention research.
East Los Angeles, Califomia is identified as a food desert with limited access to healthy foods and comprehensive grocery stores. This project will convert four study corner stores in East L.A., to make them community assets where people can buy healthy food and learn about healthy food consumption and preparation.
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