Background (Background, Rationale, Prior Research, and/or Theory): To address poor access to healthful food, a SNAP-Ed healthy corner store policy, systems, and environment (PSE) initiative in New York State was designed to increase availability of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy in local corner stores using phased changes, beginning with education and marketing strategies and ending with sustained increases in healthful offerings. Process evaluation was an important step in assessing program implementation and determining context for implementing evidence-based best practices.
Objective: The purpose of this process evaluation was to determine the extent to which the healthy corner store PSE initiative was implemented as intended and to identify facilitators and barriers to implementation in all seven participating stores during FY 2017.
Study Design, Setting, Participants, Intervention: The mixed methods design included review of SNAP-Ed program activity logs, discussion with SNAP-Ed staff and partners, and site visits.
Outcome Measures and Analysis: Fidelity was assessed by comparing quantified input, activity, and output data from activity logs with the program logic model and store-specific goals. Field notes were analyzed for themes related to program implementation successes and challenges.
Results: Three of the seven corner stores were new to the initiative in 2017, reflecting successful program efforts to build and sustain relationships with store owners. Program staff implemented (or continued to support) early stage goals (e.g. educational events and presentation and promotion practices to highlight healthful foods already available). However, changing store food offerings proved challenging. Staff cited cultural preferences, limited buying power, and limited store size as barriers to increasing fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy offerings.
Conclusions and Implications: This healthy corner store PSE initiative reflects nationwide evidence that suggests corner store programs can be slow-moving and require consistent effort and community buy-in. Process evaluation results indicated achievement of early program goals and highlighted challenges in creating sustainable changes in store food offerings. Results will immediately inform scheduled interviews with staff, community partners, store owners, and store customers and will inform interpretation of outcome results.