Study Importance

Improving access to healthy food has been identified by the Institute of Medicine, CDC and other national and scientific authorities as a strategy for local governments to help prevent obesity.

In the Fall of 2014, the City of Minneapolis revised an ordinance requiring all stores with grocery licenses to carry a wide array of healthy foods and beverages in order to better align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and stocking requirements for WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program vendors.

To date, Minneapolis is the only city in the U.S. to have a policy of this kind in place. This type of policy action may have an important impact on food access, particularly in under-served neighborhoods and small food stores that do not currently stock these types of items. This policy is expected to have the greatest impact on small-scale food retailers, such as corner stores and convenience stores, as well as non-traditional food retailers, such as gas-marts, dollar stores and pharmacies.


Study Purpose

The purpose of this STaple foods ORdinance Evaluation (STORE) study, therefore, is to evaluate the impact of this local policy change (i.e., the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance) that establishes minimum stocking criteria for a wide array of healthy foods as a requirement of food store licensing.

In this study, the impact of the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance will be evaluated by assessing objectively measured changes in:

  • Food environments among small- to mid-sized, urban food stores, including availability, promotion, advertising, quality, price, and placement of both healthy and unhealthy foods and beverages
  • Nutritional quality of consumer purchases at small- to mid-sized food stores, including assessment of energy density and calories via customer intercept surveys and direct observation of purchases
  • Home food environments, including availability of healthy and unhealthy foods/beverages and an overall home food obesogenicity score, among households that frequently shop at small- to mid-sized food stores.

These changes are being assessed pre-policy implementation, as well as 4-, 12- and 24-months post-policy implementation, in two Minnesota cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul (the control community).


Collaboration with the Minneapolis Health Department

This research would not be possible without the collaborative efforts in place with the Minneapolis Health Department.  To learn more about the involvement with the Minneapolis Health Department in regard to this policy, please visit:


In particular, Ms. Kristen Klingler and Ms. Nora Gordon, who work with the Healthy Living Initiative at the Minneapolis Health Department, have been critical partners in these efforts. For more information on the work done by the Healthy Living Initiative, please visit:


Funding Sources

This policy impact evaluation is funded by the National Institutes of Health (Grants 1R01DK104348-01A1, U54-HD070725 and 5R25CA057711) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3U48DP005022-01S1) through the NOPREN (Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network). For more information on NOPREN, please visit:


Early support from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) Faculty Interactive Research Program at the University of Minnesota allowed us to set the stage for this large-scale funding (much of which was not available until after the revised ordinance was passed) and build infrastructure so that we were poised to conduct this large-scale policy evaluation at the appropriate point in time.



  • Invited presentation: Melissa Laska. “Informing efforts to promote healthy corner store purchasing: The Minneapolis experience.” National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Workshop: “Exploring Ways to Nudge Healthy Purchases Among SNAP Shoppers.” July 2014.
  • Invited presentation: Melissa Laska. “Improving access to healthy foods in underserved communities: The role of corner stores.” Cornell University; Janet Clay White Endowed Lecture Series. [Also a live and archived webinar series broadcast to Cornell Cooperative Extension Agents across New York state.] September 2014.
  • Laska MN, Pelletier J, Caspi C, Harnack L, Klingler K, Beatty T, Erickson D. “Evaluating the impact of a local staple food ordinance on fruit and vegetable availability.” Oral presentation at Obesity Week 2014. November 2014.
  • Laska MN, Caspi C, Pelletier J, Friebur R, Harnack L. “Assessment of healthy food availability in small- to mid-sized SNAP-participating retailers in the U.S.: The need for supply-side policies to help improve dietary quality in low-income customers.” Oral presentation at the ISBNPA Annual Meeting. June 2015.
  • Laska MN, Pelletier J, Caspi C. “NIH- and CDC-funded study examining the impact of the SFO, particularly on small- to mid-sized stores in Minneapolis to that of St. Paul, where no such policy exists.” Presentation at the STORE Study Advisory Committee Meeting. July 2015.
  • Laska MN. “Evaluating the impact of the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.” Presentation to the Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center Group. August 2015.
  • Laska MN. “Using Local Policy to Improve Healthy Food Availability in Underserved Communities: The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.” Presented at the Minnesota Policy Conference. October 2015.
  • Klingler K. “City of Minneapolis: Staple Foods Ordinance.” Presented at the Minnesota Policy Conference. October 2015.
  • Caspi CE. “Evaluation Design and Baseline Findings.” Presented at the Minnesota Policy Conference.  October 2015.
  • Klingler K, Caspi CE, Gordon N, Pelletier JE, Laska MN. “Adoption of the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance: A novel policy to improve healthy food availability in small food stores.” Presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. November 2015.
  • Barnes TL, Pelletier JE, Erickson DJ, Caspi CE, Harnack LJ, Laska MN. “Healthfulness of Food Advertising and Product Placement in Small Urban Food Stores.” Poster presentation at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting 2015. November 2015.
  • Laska MN. “Evaluating the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.” Presented at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network-funded Peer Learning Exchange Program between representatives from the City of Minneapolis and the City of Baltimore, MD. March 2016.


Published or In Press (n=6)

  •  Laska MN, Caspi CE, Pelletier JE, Friebur R, Harnack LJ. Lack of Healthy Food in Small-Size to Mid-Size Retailers Participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota, 2014. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2015; (12):150171.  PMCID:PMC4556107
  •  Caspi CE, Pelletier JE, Harnack L, Erickson DJ, Laska MN. Differences in healthy food supply and stocking practices between small grocery stores, gas-marts, pharmacies and dollar stores.  Public Health Nutrition. 2016; 19(3): 540-547.  PMCID:PMC4744095
  • Laska MN. Limited availability of healthy foods in small- to mid-sized SNAP-authorized food retailers. The Global Fruit and Vegetable Newsletter, Agency for the Research and Information on Fruits and Vegetables. Number 13. September 2016. No PMCID required.
  • Pelletier JE, Caspi CE, Schreiber LRN, Erickson DJ, Harnack L, Laska MN.  Successful Customer Intercept Interview Recruitment Outside Small and Midsize Urban Food Retailers.  BMC Public Health. 2016. 16:1050; doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3717-2. PMCID:PMC5050669.
  • Barnes TL, Pelletier JE, Erickson DJ, Caspi CE, Harnack LJ, Laska MN. Healthfulness of foods advertised in small and non-traditional urban food stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, 2014. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2016; 13:160149. PMCID:PMC5109932
  • Caspi CE, Lenk K, Pelletier JE, Barnes TL, Harnack L, Erickson DJ, Laska MN. Food and beverage purchases in corner stores, gas-marts, pharmacies and dollar stores. Public Health Nutrition. In Press 7/27/16. NIHMS ID: 821659. PMID: 27641618


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