Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is always finding new ways to better the community while empowering youth in partnership with adults. The latest project YES! has been working on is bringing healthier food options to corner stores in Asheville, N.C. YES! youth reached out to many corner stores, such as the ones near our office and in communities of lower wealth, to find out if they were interested in working with us. The manager of one store in the Montford neighborhood responded to us and we set up a meeting with the store owner to discuss our proposal and what our next steps would be. She gave us permission to do an in-store survey in which YES! youth staff visited the corner store to take a survey based on what they saw in the store. One of the questions on the in-store survey was, “Is there a good amount of fruits and vegetables?” A few days later, we went back to the Montford corner store and surveyed store customers. We did a total of 28 surveys. The top comments from the people surveyed were that fruits and vegetables are not present in the store and that they would spend more money if there were healthier, better quality food options.
Since we got back results that showed customers would support healthier options in the store, we are on to our next steps. We have shared the survey results with the store owner and our community partners. We also have started discussing some small changes we could make to improve the store and will be checking up on it occasionally to see how everything is going. One of the small changes we have in mind is to move ads for unhealthy food to the back of the store and move healthy food ads to the front of the store. Another change is to use brightly colored price tags for the healthy foods and make them more appealing to customers by using good lighting and nice display shelves. Now that we have shared the results and proposed some changes we are in the process of setting up another meeting with the store owner. We’re honored that this store has decided to work with YES! And we are excited that this has been such a successful youth-adult partnership. For more information or to learn how you can include youth in the work you’re doing in your community, please contact Diana Manee at Diana@youthempoweredsolutions.org.