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It’s not always easy to find healthy and affordable food in gas stations, dollar stores or corner grocery stores.

The University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are offering a new program to show communities how to improve access to healthy, affordable foods by working with small food retailers.

A free Aug. 28 webinar will give community partners and retailers information about the Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy program.

“The program helps community groups and retailers work together to educate consumers on the value of eating healthy at stores in their area,” said MU Extension specialist Kara Lubischer.

Retailers learn tips to strengthen customer loyalty and build demand through the program and community groups learn how to effectively partner with a store and provide nutrition education both in the community and in the store.

A USDA report estimated that 17 percent of the U.S. population had “limited access” to a supermarket in 2013, meaning they lived more than a half mile from the closest supermarket in urban areas or more than 10 miles away in rural areas.

According to the report, low-income and elderly people typically have the least access to healthy foods.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat snack options are less available than high-priced processed foods that can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes,” Lubischer said.

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