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TOPEKA, Kan. -- More than a dozen convenience stores are joining Shawnee County's fight to reduce the community's salt intake. The health initiative is being spearheaded by the commissioners in this Kansas county.
The c-stores have agreed to display a standalone rack of "healthy, low-sodium items," Erin Tynon, public health educator for the Shawnee County Health Agency, told The Capital-Journal.
Tynon said Hy-Vee Convenience Store, Gas & Shop Convenience Store, Larry's Shortstop and 10 local Kwik Shops have agreed to put up the rack in a prominent spot in the store. It will contain foods that a dietitian picks out from each store's offerings as being healthy and low in sodium.
"When you go into convenience stores, you don't often think about 'healthy,' but what we wanted to do was create a choice for the consumer," she said.
The move is part of a county initiative financed by a three-year grant of more than $930,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In October 2010, the CDC awarded Sodium Reduction in Communities grants to New York City; Los Angeles County; the state of Kansas, to work with Shawnee County; the state of California, to work with Shasta County; and the state of New York, to work with Broome and Schenectady counties, which include the cities of Binghamton and Schenectady, the newspaper reported.
The CDC grants are aimed at helping implement policy and media strategies to create healthier food environments and reduce sodium intake in the population.
Tynon told the newspaper that those involved with the Shawnee County initiative met some resistance when they first approached convenience store managers about getting involved. "A lot" of the managers said their customers don't ask for low-sodium foods, she said, adding that typical convenience store consumers "have very set ways; they go in in the mornings, they purchase their pop and their candy bar for the day."
Still, she said, the convenience stores that did get involved are "really enthusiastic" about the initiative. The sodium reduction initiative will provide the racks, as well as promotional signage, technical assistance and advertising.