Food Systems for Health

A Focus on Healthy Food in Retail Environments

November 22, 2020

In September, Berkeley, CA, passed the nation’s first healthy checkout policy, requiring that grocery stores 2,500 square feet and larger offer healthier food in the checkout aisle. Sugary candy and sodas in checkout aisles will need to be replaced with nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy; beverages and other food items must have low amounts of sugar and sodium. The policy will be implemented on March 1, 2021, but not enforced until January 1, 2022, to give retailers and suppliers time to adjust to the change.


This policy came about through a partnership between Berkeley community members and CSPI, where Bloomberg Fellow Ashley Hickson is co-lead of the healthy retail project. To support this initiative, Ashley developed a guide for food retailers, to help them select appropriate foods that meet the new guidelines, and also provided technical assistance through data analysis. She is also supporting CSPI’s partnerships with other localities to create similar policies across the country. 


Through her work at CSPI, Ashley has also contributed to dissemination of a new national research agenda for healthy food retail. This agenda is detailed in a report (which received funding support from the Initiative) that was published on November 17; it marks the culmination of efforts by CSPI, Healthy Eating Research, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and The Food Trust to build consensus around key research priorities for healthy food retail practices. Accompanying that report is a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that examines the importance of research and evaluation of retail strategies to support healthy eating.

Johns Hopkins faculty played a key role in creating this research agenda and special journal issue: assistant professor Alyssa Moran, ScD, is guest editor of the journal issue and senior author of the report; professor Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, is senior author of a paper in the journal; and associate scientist Anne Palmer, MAIA, is senior author on a policy review in the journal issue.

Read more about the report and special journal issue.

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