Local grocery stores are vital to America’s rural communities. These stores are part of the economic engine that sustains rural communities—providing essential jobs and taxes. They are an important source of nutrition and health, providing a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein. Grocery stores are also where we meet friends, catch up on the latest news and stay connected. Like schools, restaurants and post offices, rural grocery stores are community assets that attract and retain citizens. A thriving local grocery store is a sign of a healthy community.
Yet, all too often we hear of another store closing.
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 launched the Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI) in 2007. Since that time, we have worked hard to understand rural grocery challenges and provide workable solutions to address those challenges.
We are hosting the fourth National Rural Grocery Summit in Manhattan, Kansas on June 9-10, 2014 to offer the latest and best ideas regarding rural grocery operations. In 2012, over 200 participants from 13 different states attended this important conference. We expect even more store owners, concerned citizens, funders, non-profits, government agencies, food suppliers, university researchers and business leaders to attend the 2014 summit. Participants will spend two days talking with one another about the "triple bottom line" of rural grocery benefits—economic development, nutritional health and community sustainability.
The National Rural Grocery Summit will:
- spotlight the latest and best thinking about rural grocery stores and rural community sustainability;
- demonstrate the nutritional, economic development and community benefits rural grocery stores provide;
- highlight rural grocery store success stories;
- provide an opportunity to talk directly with funders, grocery distributors and grocery owners, and
- identify strategies to establish and sustain local grocery stores.
We hope you will join us as we gather together and explore ways to strengthen our rural grocery stores and communities.