Introduction: Children living in rural areas are at greater risk for obesity than heir urban counterparts. Differences in healthy food access may contribute to this disparity. Most healthy food access initiatives target stores in urban areas. We conducted a formative evaluation to increase availability of healthy snacks and beverages in food stores near schools in rural Oregon. Methods: We assessed availability of healthy snacks and beverages in food stores (n = 15) using the SNACZ (Students Now Advocating to Create Healthy Snacking Zones) checklist and conducted in-depth interviews with food store owners (n = 6). Frequency distributions were computed for SNACZ checklist items, and interview data were analyzed by using applied thematic analysis. Results: Overall, availability of healthy snacks and beverages in study communities was low. Four interrelated themes regarding store owner perspectives on stocking healthy snacks and beverages emerged from the interviews: customer demand, space constraints, vendor influence, and perishability. Conclusion: In addition to working with food store owners, efforts to increase availability of healthy snacks and beverages in rural areas should engage young people, food buyers (eg, schools), and vendors as stakeholders for identifying strategies to increase demand for and availability of these items. Further research will be needed to determine which strategies or combinations of strategies are feasible to implement in the study communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health