Local News

Durham program pushes healthy options at convenience stores

Posted August 15, 2014

— In Durham, the battle against obesity has come to the corner store.

The Express Mart, at Roxboro and Geer streets, is like any other neighborhood convenience store. It’s where customer Grady Leak picks up his chips, candy and soda.

It’s not the healthiest food, but the owner is working with the Durham County Health Department to change that. The county is leading a program to bring more nutritious options to convenience stores across the city, especially ones in lower-income neighborhoods where healthy choices are harder to find.

Sixty percent of adults in Durham are obese or overweight, and about one in 10 have Type 2 diabetes.

“We’re trying to make the healthier options more obvious in the store,” said Kelly Warnock, health program manager with the Durham County Health Department. “A lot of the residents around here lack transportation, and there isn't a grocery store within walking distance.”

The owner of the Express Mart embraced the idea about a month ago, adding healthier items to the shelves and putting fruit for sale on valuable counter space at the register.

“When people come by, they have that impulse buy to get an apple and banana instead of a candy bar,” Warnock said.

Warnock said customers are embracing the idea. Even Leak said the front-and-center fruit could persuade him to change.

“Maybe I might grab an apple instead of some chips,” he said.

A federal grant helps pay for the program. That grant ends in September, but Warnock says the county is looking for local funding to keep the effort going.


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