ECU professor Dr. Stephanie Pitts talks with convenience store owner David Rizik about the healthy food choices available in his store on Old Pactolus Highway in Pitt County. (ECU Photo by Rhett Butler)

Researchers from East Carolina University have been awarded grant funding to study the effectiveness of a program to improve access to healthy food options in North Carolina.

The two-year, $250,000 grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action research program will provide funding for a team of researchers – led by principal investigator Dr. Stephanie Pitts, a professor in ECU’s Department of Public Health – to evaluate the impact of the state of North Carolina’s Healthy Food Small Retailer Program.

The program, which was funded through the state legislature in 2016 and administered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, aims to help small retailers in the state’s food deserts overcome common barriers they face in stocking nutrient-dense foods by providing reimbursement for refrigeration, freezer and shelving equipment.

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Originally published Feb. 2, 2019.

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