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Rural Grocery Stores

June 6-7, 2016 National Rural Grocery Summit in Wichita, KS
Kansas State University will host the 5th biennial National Rural Grocery Summit in Wichita, KS. The summit will "bring together store owners, citizen leaders, food suppliers, academic researchers, policy makers, and funders to talk with one another about how best to sustain this critical piece of community infrastructure and improve the health of our rural citizens." For more information on the conference agenda and to register, please visit the Kansas State University Rural Grocery Summit website. Registration for the RSDP hosted charter bus is now closed.

Small-town grocery stores are the heart of rural communities, yet many struggle due to issues like shrinking customer base, competition from larger chain stores, and changing customer demands for fresh produce and greater variety. The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) support rural grocers affected by these issues through a number of rural grocery resources and projects. These include fresh produce handling guides for small retailers; information on how to work with farmers to sell locally grown produce; and in-store produce handling training and education. These projects address needs identified in the 2015 Rural Grocery Survey and through face-to-face conversations with rural grocery owners throughout Minnesota.

2015 Rural Grocery Survey

The 2015 Rural Grocery Store Survey was conducted by the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships to understand the needs and concerns of rural grocery store owners in Minnesota. This project was funded by AgCountry Farm Credit Services, AgriBank, AgStar Financial Services, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and United FCS. Many organizations and individuals provided feedback on the design, including Extension Community Economics, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Wilder Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Grocery Access Task Force's Finance Subcommittee, Minnesota Food Charter, Clean Energy Resource Teams, the Center for Rural Policy and Development, and two grocery wholesale businesses. Results are being analyzed throughout spring of 2016 and will be posted on this page as they become available. For more information, please feel free to contact Karen Lanthier at korsl001@umn.edu.

 

Rural Grocery Store Survey: At-a-Glance - Rural Grocery Energy Use (PDF)
University of Minnesota - Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
This is the third in a series of fact sheets sharing "at-a-glance" findings from questions related to what it is like to run a grocery store in rural Minnesota.

Rural Grocery Store Survey: At-a-Glance - Fresh Produce and Farm to Rural Grocery (PDF)
University of Minnesota - Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
This is the second in a series of fact sheets sharing "at-a-glance" findings from questions related to what it is like to run a grocery store in rural Minnesota.

Rural Grocery Store Survey: At-a-Glance - Business Characteristics and Environment (PDF)
University of Minnesota - Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
This is the first in a series of fact sheets sharing "at-a-glance" findings from questions related to what it is like to run a grocery store in rural Minnesota.

Rural Energy for America Program

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from the USDA Office of Rural Development is a great opportunity for rural grocers and small businesses to save energy dollars with efficient equipment or add renewable energy systems. This competitive grant and loan program is directed specifically at rural communities in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

Grants can cover up to 25% of eligible project costs, and loans can cover up to 75% of eligible project costs. Applications are scored competitively in batches. The first round of applications for 2016 is due May 2. The second round is due October 31. Projects requesting grants of up to $20,000 ($80,000 or less total project size) can fill out a short form application. The short form application accepts energy savings estimates quoted by equipment vendors to streamline the application.

If you are thinking of equipment upgrades, such as new refrigeration, compressors, lighting, cooler doors, or even solar panels, please consider this program. For more case studies, cheat sheets, and resources on how to apply, check out Clean Energy Resource Team resources at www.mncerts.org/greatrenewables. You can also contact Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Program Manager at (612) 626-1028 to discuss program eligibility, project details, and receive assistance with the application.

Resources

Produce Handling, Storage, and Marketing Presentation
Presented by Ryan Pesch (University of Minnesota) and Matt Olson (Mississippi Market)
Presentation given for rural grocers and farmers highlighting best practices for handling, storing, and marketing fresh produce as well as locally-grown fresh produce.

Kansas State Rural Grocery Initiative's Rural Grocery Toolkit
Kansas State University
Kansas State University has developed resources for rural grocers around assessing the market, business management, financing, marketing, and more.

Rural Grocery Challenges and Best Practices
Kansas State University Rural Grocery Initiative resources
Resources to trouble shoot issues such as working with chain grocery stores, meeting minimum buying requirements, dealing with high energy costs, and more.

Southwest RSDP Food Network Gathering Summary (PDF)
Key themes and discussions from a panel with four rural grocery owners held at the Southwest RSDP Food Network Gathering on October 1, 2014.

Rural Grocery Summit 2014 Highlights
This page covers highlights of the 2014 Rural Grocery Summit in Manhattan, Kansas. The next Rural Grocery Summit will occur on June 6th and 7th in Wichita, Kansas. Information will be posted as it becomes available.

Minnesota Grocers Association
Trade association focused on advancing the common interests and providing resources to those involved in supermarkets, superstores, convenience stores, food wholesale, food manufacturing, and food brokerage.

Contact

For more information, please contact Karen Lanthier korsl001@umn.edu
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