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Shopping for (Population) Health
by admin July 14, 2016

By Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, CDN

Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper/Market 32

As our health care systems transform, driven by the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign and New York State Department of Health’s innovative Prevention Agenda, there is an opportunity to look beyond traditional health care providers and realize there are roles for new partners. Population health is all about systems that improve and protect health, and grocery stores have multiple roles to play.

Grocery stores and supermarkets have actually been part of the system all along. Their original role was very basic, and remains an important one today: providing access to food in a community. In the late 1970s, pharmacies began to appear in food stores. As time marched on, they added resources like blood pressure machines. More recently, registered dietitians and nutrition education resources like NuVal® Nutrition Scores have become prominent, and pharmacies continue to expand into more public health and clinical services.

Studies have shown that communities with established full-service grocery stores are healthier than those areas termed food deserts. However, communities may not really see the store as a health resource – how they serve and support the health of a community is overlooked. Some of the health system benefits include:

  1. Ensuring access to a full spectrum of fresh, frozen and canned foods.
  2. Distributing and promoting local produce, dairy and other products.
  3. Access to chronic disease resources and vaccinations – pharmacy programs like diabetes care and vaccinations are just two of the innovative services that are expanding rapidly.
  4. Assisting with nutrition information, education and medical nutrition therapy – a rapidly growing area of food retail.
  5. Walk-in medical clinics, often partnered with local health systems.

Finally, grocery stores and supermarkets are crucial lifelines in times of natural disaster and participate in many community events that support a higher quality of life. There is great opportunity to collaborate with grocery stores around population health efforts and ensure members of our communities are accessing all of the excellent resources they bring to the table. Learn more about your store today!

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LiveSmart supports the Classroom Enrichment Fund at the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and is made possible by donations from St. Peter’s Health Partners and Price Chopper, with promotional services provided by the Times Union and WNYT/NewsChannel 13. LiveSmart is compiled by Helen Susan Edelman, Project Director. This project ensures 70,000 students and teachers in the Capital Region have equal access to news content during the school year.