Rachael Dombrowski, assistant professor of Community Health Education in the College of Education, quoted in Second Wave Michigan, "Why a store on the corner doesn’t always mean healthy food on the table"

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Second Wave Michigan, 1/22

Why a store on the corner doesn’t always mean healthy food on the table

By Brian Allnutt

The premise is simple, but the effect profound: customers are more likely to shop in stores that have the foods they want and the service to go with it. “Everybody wants good quality food and they want good customer service,” Rachael Dombrowski, professor of Community Health Education at Wayne State University says. “So, if they don’t get those two things, they won’t go back to the store. It’s as simple as that.” In order to codify some of the best practices set forth by good grocers, as well as bring a higher level of accountability into the business, The Detroit Food Policy Council and partners including Wayne State are launching the Detroit Healthy Grocer Initiative this winter to help stores meet certain standards. They will focus on availability and quality of healthy food, pricing and affordability, customer service, and community engagement. This initiative follows on the heels of a pilot program that took place in seven Detroit district focus groups among Detroit’s 77 independent grocers and three chain supermarkets. This innovative effort to bring accountability to the city’s food economy could help improve access to quality food by making shoppers feel welcome and by ensuring they have access to the healthy foods they seek. According to Dombrowski, some grocers “think that people don’t want healthy food,” which leads grocers to purchase low quality produce that customers in turn don’t want to buy. Better communication could help change this dynamic. “So one of the things we want to offer to the stores is some training around customer service, around produce rotation…” Dombrowski says. “Because you would get that in a large corporate store [which would] have a whole training program set up, but for an independent or family owned store you wouldn’t necessarily have all that training available.”