Evaluation of the first U.S. staple foods ordinance: Impact on nutritional quality of food store offerings, customer purchases and home food environments

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Background: Many lower-income and racially diverse communities in the U.S. have limited access to healthy foods, with few supermarkets and many small convenience stores, which tend to stock limited quantities and varieties of healthy foods. To address food access, in 2015 the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance became the first policy requiring food stores to stock minimum quantities and varieties of 10 categories of healthy foods/beverages, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other staples, through licensing. This study examined whether: (a) stores complied, (b) overall healthfulness of store environments improved, (c) healthy customer purchases increased, and (d) healthfulness of home food environments improved among frequent small store shoppers. Methods: Data for this natural (or quasi) experiment were collected at four times: pre-policy (2014), implementation only (no enforcement, 2015), enforcement initiation (2016) and continued monitoring (2017). In-person store assessments were conducted to evaluate food availability, price, quality, marketing and placement in randomly sampled food retailers in Minneapolis (n = 84) and compared to those in a nearby control city, St. Paul, Minnesota (n = 71). Stores were excluded that were: supermarkets, authorized through WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), and specialty stores (e.g., spice shops). Customer intercept interviews were conducted with 3,039 customers exiting stores. Home visits, including administration of home food inventories, were conducted with a sub-sample of frequent shoppers (n = 88). Results: Overall, findings indicated significant improvements in healthy food offerings by retailers over time in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, with no significant differences in change between the two cities. Compliance was low; in 2017 only 10% of Minneapolis retailers in the sample were fully compliant, and 51% of participating Minneapolis retailers met at least 8 of the 10 required standards. Few changes were observed in the healthfulness of customer purchases or the healthfulness of home food environments among frequent shoppers, and changes were not different between cities. Conclusions: This study is the first evaluation a local staple foods ordinance in the U.S. and reflects the challenges and time required for implementing such policies. Trial registration: NCT02774330.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 18 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DK104348 (PI: M. Laska), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Award Number U48DP005022. Additional funding for formative and developmental work for this study was funded by the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, as well as the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins, which is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (OD) under award number U54HD070725. Further salary support provided to Dr. Caspi as a postdoctoral fellow was provided by NIH grant 5R25CA163184: NCI Cancer Related Health Disparities Education and Career Development Program. NIH grant UL1TR000114 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) supported data management. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Food access
  • Food policy
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity


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