Access to healthy foods leads to successfully acquired tastes

Access to healthy food can be a struggle for people living in many parts of the country. More than 25% of Missourians—higher than the national average—have this problem. Extension experts in Missouridid something about it and have reached more than half a million people.

Partnering with the state’s health and senior services department, they established a statewide healthy retail program that helps increase access to healthy foods, both from the supply and demand sides of the equation.

The Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy program builds community demand for healthy foods through outreach and nutrition education classes. More than 70 classes and 12 youth cooking competitions have been held. Some classes are offered in both English and Spanish to serve local Hispanic families, and include culturally relevant recipes. Healthy food fairs have been held in elementary schools, home-and-garden shows and gardening events.

Inside stores, the partners work with store managers to move healthy items to the front, offer more taste tests of healthy foods and increase the amount of healthy foods sold based on customer preferences. More than 115 new food products were added to store inventories. Nearby schools promote the taste tests for students wanting after-school snacks. Once customers get a taste, some products “fly off the shelves.”