City requirements on healthy food may change, taking cultural preferences into account
By NACS Online // November 20, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS – In 2014, a Minneapolis ordinance required grocery stores, corner shops and c-stores to stock a variety of healthy foods from 10 categories. The goal of this “staple foods” ordinance? Help consumers who don’t have easy access to a grocery store find nutritious products.
This year, 38% of the 250 stores were fully compliant with the ordinance. But a study by the University of Minnesota found that among small stores, like c-stores, only 10% were compliant. Store owners have been complaining about the requirement. Kristen Klingler, a public health specialist with the Minneapolis Health Department told the Star Tribunethat “they were being forced to stock items that consumers don’t eat.”
The Star Tribune remarked on The Fremont Market in north Minneapolis, a corner store that ends up throwing away more fruits and vegetables than he sells. “If I could sell the oranges and the apples like the chips, I will take off the chips and sell the oranges,” owner Khaled “Mike” Azem told the newspaper. “But now we are not making money. Most of the oranges now go to the trash.”
As a result, the city is looking to reduce required quantities and combine food categories to expand other varieties that take cultural preferences into account. Minneapolis city data found that due to cultural preferences, 50% of Asian and 26% of East African stores had trouble complying with the cheese requirements, while 50% of Asian and 36% of Latino stores had trouble with the whole-grain cereal category.
On Nov. 26, the City Council will hold a public hearing and if the changes pass, ethnic food stores will not be required to stock items that their customers avoid. And as long as these stores substitute the items they don’t want to stock with other nutritional products that their customers traditionally eat, they won’t face penalties, said Daniel Huff, the city’s environmental health director.