Rural Grocery Summit III: Strengthening Our Stores. Strengthening Our Communities.
Local grocery stores are critical for 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. A local grocery store is most important for the rural young, elderly, and those citizens with limited resources. Grocery stores are where we meet friends, catch up on the latest news, and stay connected. Grocery stores, like schools, restaurants, and post offices 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 are working to assist rural communities and their grocery stores through the nationally recognized Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI). Since 2007 we have identified challenges rural grocery stores face and offered solutions to those challenges.
We will host the third national Rural Grocery Summit in Manhattan, Kansas on June 5-6, 2012. In 2010, over 200 participants from 13 different states attended this important conference. This year we expect even more store owners, concerned citizens, funders, non-profits, government agencies, food suppliers, university researchers, and business leaders. Participants will spend two days talking with one another about the "triple bottom line" of rural grocery benefits – economic development, improving health, and community sustainability.
Specifically, the rural grocery summit will:
- highlight the latest and best thinking about rural grocery stores and rural community sustainability;
- emphasize the nutrition, economic development, and community benefits rural grocery stores provide;
- offer rural grocery store owners and rural grocery stakeholders the opportunity to talk about possible solutions to shared problems;
- provide a discussion of rural grocery best practices, and
- chart a path for sustainable rural grocery stores.
We hope you will join us as we gather together and explore ways to save our rural grocery stores.