Community Development: Retaining Rural Grocers

Elwood marketThanks go to Dr. Dan Kahl, Associate Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky for this week’s blog idea. His idea demonstrates the power of the national Cooperative Extension Service network as he mentions work being done in Kansas.


It’s not a secret. Many small rural towns struggle to maintain themselves and their quality of life.

Part of that quality comes from having certain amenities such as a local cafe and a school. Another key component is a local grocery store. This local store often becomes a meeting point where neighbor sees neighbor, where the bulletin board serves as a “social media” sharing site, and where many events are held.

Obviously we all need food and that means access. USDA talks about food deserts or places where, for rural situations, people have to drive more than 10 miles to get to a supermarket or large grocery store. But such stores serve as much more.

Kansas State University has developed the Rural Grocery Initiative to help these rural linchpin stores maintain themselves and grow. When Dan sent the information about this effort, he specifically mentioned their Rural Grocery Tool Kit as a useful resource. Not only are a variety of tools found but there is also a variety of reports such as Rural Grocery Stores: Ownership Models that Work for Rural Communities.

Since 2007, Kansas State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development has worked on this project. They have done several national meetings for store owners and community stakeholders. Their National Rural Grocery Summit V is set for June 6th and 7th in Wichita, Kansas. See their web site for more information.

Growing your local economy through your rural grocery store. Looking for help, here is a great resource.  

Here is another story on supporting rural grocery stores.

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