Campaign for Healthy, Local Food Procurement at Dollar Stores in the United States About 85% of Americans do not consume the US Food and Drug Administration's recommended daily intake of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental health, leading to malnutrition in some cases and obesity in others. The situation is acute for children. Dollar stores feed more Americans every year than Whole Foods, yet offer little to no healthy or fresh foods options. Many dollar stores are located in low-income neighborhoods that have limited or no access to healthy foods or a full-service grocery store nearby. In some cases, competition from dollar stores helped drive the closing of local groceries and food markets. The problem is likely to grow, as dollar stores continue to expand nationally at a rapid pace. The COVID-19 health and economic crisis highlighted the fact that food security is precarious for many people in this country.
The environmental health and justice organization Coming Clean, along with several other key partners such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Just Transition Alliance (JTA), and local Albuquerque, New Mexico area farmer cooperatives Agri-Cultura Network and Los Jardines Institute, are working together to encourage and help Dollar General plan and execute a pilot for procuring healthy, local produce and food products that can serve as a model for expanding nutrition and quality food offerings at dollar stores nationwide.
The goal is to demonstrate that a sustainable, local procurement policy is both possible, profitable, and replicable for commercial adoption by Dollar General's 16,200 stores serving low-income communities across 44 states. Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform are, through their Campaign for Healthier Solutions, engaging with other chains such as Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only Stores to explore how this model could be replicated by other chains as well. UP funding is helping to build out the model in New Mexico and support engagement with Dollar General for adoption. If successful, Coming Clean and Dollar General would explore a national expansion strategy that ultimately will be taken up by Dollar General.
Based on the team's progress and initial buy-in from Dollar General, UP has provided follow-on support for Year 2 of Coming Clean's Local Food Solutions campaign to fully execute the pilot in Albuquerque and explore expansion opportunities in other food deserts served by Dollar General.