#272. Rural Grocery Summit II: Saving Rural America’s Critical Infrastructure

Posted on | The Agurban

In October 2009, we ran an Agurban on the value of a grocery store in a small community, along with a follow-up the next week on some small communities that took matters into their own hands to ensure that their community had a grocery store. We continue to believe that a grocery store is a critical piece of the landscape in small communities. We recently learned of a conference to explore ways of how best to sustain a grocery store in a small town. Below is more information:

Rural Grocery Summit II: Saving Rural America’s Critical Infrastructure

Local grocery stores represent a critical infrastructure for our rural communities. These stores are an important part of the economic engine that sustains rural communities, providing essential jobs and taxes. They are a vital source for nutrition and health, providing a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and protein. These groceries are especially critical for the rural young, poor, and elderly. Grocery stores are where we meet friends, catch up on the latest news, build relationships and network with others. Grocery stores, like schools, restaurants, and post offices, are community assets used to recruit and retain citizens, providing a symbol of community health. Unfortunately, it seems every day we hear about another store closing shop and shutting their doors. In Kansas alone, 82 grocery stores in communities of fewer than 2,000 people have closed since 2007. The following communication expresses the seriousness and immediacy of this problem.Our city lost its grocery store almost 6 years ago. Our senior apartments are suffering since there isn’t a local grocery and our citizens are having an outcry about not having one. My question is, can you give me any advice, any where to go? – City Clerk

Because the loss of a rural grocery store threatens the health of local citizens and the very existence of that community, Kansas State University and a broad range of partners are working to assist rural communities and their grocery stores. We have been collecting data on rural grocery stores by surveying store owners and rural grocery consumers, identifying and archiving the latest research, and talking with store owners, policy makers, and funders about grocery store challenges and their best practices.

We are now preparing to host a rural grocery summit on June 14-15, 2010 at Kansas State University. We are bringing together store owners, citizen leaders, academic researchers, policy makers, suppliers, and funders to talk with one another about how best to sustain this critical piece of community infrastructure. Specifically, the rural grocery summit will:

  1. Highlight the latest and best research on rural grocery store sustainability;
  2. Provide rural grocery store owners and resource providers network opportunities;
  3. Highlight the best practices of rural grocery stores from around the country; and
  4. Chart a path forward on: public policy options, innovative food distribution models, a rural grocery communication plan, and a research agenda.
We hope you will join us as we gather together and explore ways to save our rural grocery stores.
For more details, visit here.