small corner stores are often the only accessible food access points in many of the communities Mandela Partners' serves. We see the high density of corner stores in food insecure neighborhoods as an asset with enormous potential. Our central goals are to uplift corner stores as viable, affordable, and health-promoting retail access points in their community, and to increase corner stores’ profits through healthier food sales.
The Healthy Grocery Initiative--also known as HGI-- works with Oakland corner store owners to support business growth, build customer loyalty, and increase healthy food options, such as fresh, frozen, lightly processed, and packaged fruits and vegetables, in their communities. We aim to build the capacity of corner store owners to sell healthy foods more profitably and promote healthful eating within the community through fruit and vegetable vouchers, recipe sharing, and virtual customer engagement activities.
HGI provides complementary support services and technical assistance that benefits store owners and the surrounding community, which include: store environment improvements, marketing, nutrition education, and sourcing and procurement assistance. Lastly, our Fresh Creds program deepens the impact of our food access work by allowing us to offer CalFresh-enrolled customers a 50% discount on California-grown fruits and vegetables. We offer the discount and associated marketing materials to small and medium-sized independent grocers or cooperatives in addition to corner store partners.
Participation in HGI allows stores to experiment with produce sales at little to no risk, provides access to a wide variety of technical assistance services, and builds stores’ capacity to maintain healthy retail practices. Upon graduation from the program, corner store partners will have the necessary equipment and expertise to sell fresh produce and stock healthier food options.
The Healthy Grocery Initiative has become a national model for building and sustaining healthy food access in under-resourced communities. We've been providing technical expertise and resources to other communities across the country to support them in strengthening food security by uplifting healthy retail options.