Exploring the Reasons for Low Usage and Informing Strategies to Improve Use of a Nonprofit Grocery Store in Baltimore City

Leena Daniel, Sarah J. Hinman, Kaitlyn Harper, Shahmir H. Ali, Yuxuan Gu, Lisa Poirier, Reuben Park, Antonio Trujillo, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introducing new grocery stores into low-income communities has been a focus of policy efforts to improve the food environment. Yet, evidence of the impact of this strategy on diet and health outcomes is inconsistent. In Baltimore, a not-for-profit grocery store was opened by the Salvation Army in March 2018 with the goal of improving healthy food access. Unfortunately, the store has so far failed to attract sufficient customers. This study explored the reasons for low usage from the perspective of community members and staff members. A qualitative, formative research study was conducted at the store, which included semi-structured interviews (n = 21), direct observations (n = 8), and sociodemographic surveys (n = 152). Reasons for low store usage included high prices, confusion regarding the nature of the store, and lack of product variety. Reducing prices, increasing community engagement, and using promotional materials were all recommended strategies to increase usage. The Salvation Army is interested in potentially opening other nonprofit grocery stores. The results of this study will be used to help the Salvation Army refine their nonprofit grocery store model and in their future planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEcology of Food and Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Qualitative
  • baltimore
  • food retail
  • grocery store

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Ecology

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