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    Alabama C-stores Host Healthy Cooking Classes

    Program targets food deserts in the central part of the state.

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Convenience stores in Alabama are furthering their efforts to meet the healthy needs of their customers.

    Working under a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Montgomery-based Wellness Coalition began placing fruits and vegetables in convenience stores located in "food deserts" within central Alabama, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

    Then, two months ago, the coalition took it a step further. The Wellness Coalition teamed up with the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission and EAT South to provide healthy cooking demonstrations at the c-stores to offer tips on how to prepare meals with the fruits and vegetables.

    "It's someone who's not a professional chef, but has cooking experience, demonstrating how to use fresh fruits and vegetables found in a convenience store," said Sara Byard, REACH program coordinator with the Wellness Coalition. "They use very simple recipes with a minimal number of ingredients that can all pretty much be found in that store. The idea is to demonstrate how regular people can eat healthier using the items you can find right there in the store."

    The cooking demonstrations first took place in October and have started again this month. A Petro Mart in Montgomery and a Shell store in Notasulga were the latest c-stores to offer the service.

    "We chose to do this in a convenience store because those are existing outlets where people get food and they are the closest outlets that exist already that we can work with," Byard told the news outlet. "Getting a grocery store is not the easiest thing to do and the cities have been trying for a while now."

    The results have been positive. "We have done surveys of customers and it has largely shown they are interested in having produce sold in stores," Byard said. "We also asked them if they would like to continue to see stores offer [cooking demonstrations] and they overwhelmingly said yes."

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