Healthier alternatives at area convenience stores

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- How often do you stop at a gas station or convenience store for a quick pick up and find yourself walking out with junk food you didn't plan on buying?

Eau Claire Healthy Communities is providing healthier alternatives for those impulse buys.

The organization said typical convenience store and gas station food environments can make choosing healthy food very hard and choosing unhealthy food very easy.

Nine stores in the Chippewa Valley are working with members of the Healthy Food Marketing Collaborative to reverse this trend and help people make a healthy food choice.

Participating counties include Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Dunn County.

Most participating stores are located in areas of low access to healthy and affordable food.

Public Health Nutritionist, Susan Krahn, said limited food and transportation options make it harder for many residents living in low-income or rural areas of the Chippewa Valley to eat a healthy diet

According to Eau Claire Healthy Communities, In Eau Claire County, obesity rates in rural zip codes were found to be up to 10% higher than obesity rates in zip codes located within the city of Eau Claire.

It says often residents turn to gas stations, convenience or corner stores to meet their food needs. The goal of this project was to increase access to healthy food in targeted neighborhoods.

As part of the project, stores completed healthy retail assessments. Based on the assessment, they chose strategies to increase the availability and sales of fruits and vegetables in their stores. Items such as eye-catching displays, coolers, and messaging signs were purchased and placed to help these local stores offer more fruits and vegetables.

Eau Claire County Locations include:
Direct Stores, 317 N. Barstow St, Eau Claire
Korner Store, 309 E Lincoln Ave, Fall Creek
Great Lakes Fresh Market, 155 W Lincoln Ave, Augusta

Chippewa County Locations include:
Bridge Stop, 330 W Main St, New Auburn

Dunn County Locations include:
Bridge Stop, 101 State Road 25, Wheeler
Cenex Convenience Store, 318 Railroad Ave, Boyceville
Bob & Steve’s BP Amoco Shop, 1501 9th St, Menomonie
Bob & Steve’s BP Gas Station, 506 Hwy 12 W, Knapp
Ray’s Market, 102 Tonnar South St, Ridgeland

Partners include: Chippewa County Health Department, Eau Claire City-County Health Department, HSHS St. Joseph’s/Sacred Heart Hospitals, Mayo Clinic Health System, and UW-Extension FoodWIse Program: Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire counties.