Forms of Community Engagement in Neighborhood Food Retail: Healthy Community Stores Case Study Project

Ravneet Kaur, Megan R. Winkler, Sara John, Julia Deangelo, Rachael D. Dombrowski, Ashley Hickson, Samantha M. Sundermeir, Christina M. Kasprzak, Bree Bode, Alex B. Hill, Emma C. Lewis, Uriyoan Colon-Ramos, Jake Munch, Lillian L. Witting, Angela Odoms-Young, Joel Gittelsohn, Lucia A. Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community engagement is well established as a key to improving public health. Prior food environment research has largely studied community engagement as an intervention component, leaving much unknown about how food retailers may already engage in this work. The purpose of this study was to explore the community engagement activities employed by neighborhood food retailers located in lower-income communities with explicit health missions to understand the ways stores involve and work with their communities. A multiple case study methodology was utilized among seven retailers in urban U.S. settings, which collected multiple sources of data at each retailer, including in-depth interviews, store manager sales reports, store observations using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores, public documents, and websites. Across-case analysis was performed following Stake’s multiple case study approach. Results indicated that retailers employed a wide variety of forms of community engagement within their communities, including Outreach, Building Relationships through Customer Relations, Giving Back, Partnering with Community Coalitions, and Promoting Community Representation and Inclusiveness. Strategies that built relationships through customer relations were most common across stores; whereas few stores demonstrated community inclusiveness where members participated in store decision making. Findings provide a more comprehensive view of the ways local food retailers aim to develop and sustain authentic community relationships. Additional research is needed to evaluate the impact of community engagement activities on improving community health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6986
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • case study approach
  • community engagement
  • community food stores
  • cross-case analysis
  • healthy food retail
  • retail food environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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