Healthy shopping push for remote stores in Far North Queensland

A project to encourage shoppers towards healthier food options in remote stores has taken off across the Torres Strait and Cape York regions.

The program, initially focused on five stores in the state’s far north, has been rolled out by Health and Wellbeing Queensland in partnership with remote stores group, Community Enterprise Queensland.

Data is being gathered at stores to see how their retail environments measure on price, promotion, placement and product and flag opportunities to put nutritious choices front and centre.

The project aims to steer shoppers towards a healthier grocery basket and build the capacity and capability of local stores – the main source of food in remote First Nations communities.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland First Nations Director, Dr Simone Nalatu, said this work was an important step towards breaking a vicious cycle of chronic disease and food insecurity.

“At a time when access to healthy and affordable food is hitting our remote communities hardest, making the healthy choice the easy choice is critical,” Dr Nalatu said.

“This is an exciting opportunity to improve local store environments and provide more support to managers and staff, so we are delighted to see them getting on board.

“Identifying local solutions to affordable healthy diets and building the capacity of the remote store workforce must be a priority to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations Queenslanders.”

It will initially take in CEQ stores in Napranum, Bamaga, Ngurupai (Horn) Island, Erub (Darnley) Island and Kowanyama.

The Napranum store organised an apple bobbing contest for children, captured for a photo competition asking stores to demonstrate healthy options.

Community Enterprise Queensland CEO Ian Copeland said CEQ played an integral role in building healthier regions as the largest provider of essential goods and services to North Queensland’s remote First Nations communities.

“This continuing partnership and our engagement with local communities demonstrates our commitment to driving change and increasing the healthy choices across our stores,” Mr Copeland said.

Data collected on stores by CEQ using an app will be used to develop action plans and introduce healthy changes. Photos of high-traffic areas will also be taken to capture any changes between audits.

CEQ has further embraced the project by starting an internal competition encouraging store managers to submit the best photo that showcases healthy options within store.

The project is part of HWQld’s Gather + Grow program focused on improving remote food insecurity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Far North Queensland.