National City Market, a neighborhood retailer participating in the Live Well Community Market Program, serves a predominately LatinX shopper base coming from low-income households. Over 19% of National City residents are living in poverty, with 11.3% experiencing food insecurity at a rate nearly double the county average (UCLA AskCHIS NE, California Health Interview Survey, 2016). Small neighborhood markets can play a crucial role in providing affordable fresh produce within walking distance to National City residents; however, the produce variety and quality was limited at National City Market. Due to display and storage limitations, as well as perceived demand, the market procured only 6-7 varieties of fruits and/or vegetables from a local small produce distributor. Market management also requested support on learning more about produce handling to ensure the the freshest produce on shelves.
Market management and staff received a customized produce handling and storage display training from our staff to address knowledge gaps in produce best practices and establish a simple produce rotation system.
After demonstration of commitment to a successful produce rotation system, the market manager applied to receive a tabletop refrigeration unit from us, provided by a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The market received and set up their new energy efficient produce cooler near the dry produce rack. This allowed shoppers to quickly browse produce in one section of the market and gave the market operator more physical display capacity to increase stocking variety.
The market manager now orders more heads of lettuce, bunches of cilantro, tomatoes, and is seeking advice from his produce distributor on additional wet rack items to add to the stocking list. Weekly produce sales have already more than doubled in just a few months! We’ll continue to work with the market manager to measure impact on produce sales, spoilage, quality, and to inform produce inventory management changes moving forward as requested.