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Rural Grocery Initiative

Working to strengthen our rural grocery stores

Rural Grocery Summit IV PowerPoint presentations now available

This year's Summit featured two dynamic keynote speakers and over 40 individual panelists. Sessions covered many different topics ranging from social media marketing, to food hubs, labor and energy efficiency and everything in between! Many Summit attendees and folks who were not able to make it, have been asking for the speakers' presentations from the keynote sessions and breakout sessions. We have now made those available for your viewing!

Rural Grocery Initiative would like to thank the following financial partners for their support of the Rural Grocery Summit IV:

Thanks for helping make the summit possible! 

K-State Receives USDA Research Grant to Advance Work with the Rural Grocery Initiative

Kansas State University has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the USDA to address the economic and nutritional challenges faced by rural communities.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) just announced more than $12 million in grants to support research, education and Extension activities aimed at increasing prosperity and economic security for farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and consumers across the nation. The grant awarded to Kansas State University is directed by Dr. David Procter, Center for Engagement and Community Development.  K-State co-project directors include Dr. Hikaru Peterson, Agricultural Economics; Dr. Sandra Procter, Human Nutrition Extension; Dr. Dan Kahl, Community Development Extension; and Dr. Kathryn Draeger, University of Minnesota Extension.  Industry partners include Affiliated Foods Midwest and NuVal, LLC.  

Rural Grocery Summit IV

On behalf of the Kansas State University’s Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI) we invite you to attend our Fourth Rural Grocery Summit, June 9-10, 2014 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan, Kansas. Local grocery stores are vital to rural America. These stores provide essential jobs and taxes. They are an important source of nutrition and health. Grocery stores are where we meet friends, catch up on the latest news and stay connected. Like schools, post offices, and cafes, grocery stores are community assets that attract and retain citizens. A thriving local grocery store is a sign of a healthy rural community. Yet, all too often we hear of another store struggling to survive.
Our Fourth Rural Grocery Summit responds to the challenges facing these critical small businesses by offering the latest and best ideas regarding rural grocery operations. Store owners, non-profits, foundations, citizen leaders, food suppliers and other concerned stakeholders will spend two days talking about the “triple bottom line” of rural grocery benefits – nutritional health, economic development, and community sustainability. Since our first summit in 2008, attendance has grown by 91% and we have attracted participants from 16 different states across the United States.
At this year’s summit, we will provide over 40 interactive sessions and three dynamic keynote speakers. We’re especially excited to launch our new rural grocer “toolkit” during the 2014 summit. This toolkit will offer a variety of informational resources to current and future grocery store owners. We will also highlight five grocery stores across Kansas and Nebraska that are innovatively working to bring food access to their rural communities. Overall, the summit will chart a path forward for developing and sustaining rural grocery stores. Click here to register and learn more about our Rural Grocery Summit IV.  http://www.dce.k-state.edu/conf/ruralgrocery/

Morland Community Foundation aims to open community kitchen

It took a few years, considerable fundraising and now the Morland Mercantile is now open for business. Since being established, the Morland Community Foundation will focus on another project: a community kitchen. There, residents of Morland will be able to make “homemade” products to sell in their grocery store.

Morland Mercantile holds grand opening

Ribon CuttingDuring the Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic, Governor Sam Brownback cut the ribbon for the newly-refurbished Morland Mercantile grand opening celebration on Nov. 16. The road to the opening has been long for the citizens of Morland.

New Program to Help Rural Grocery Stores Save Energy and Dollars

The Small Business Energy Program offers store owners valuable energy-saving recommendations, based on the findings of the on-site assessment. These recommendations are custom-tailored to the particular conditions in each store—and will help business owners target cost-effective improvements to maximize their investment. 

Welcome our Fall 2013 Interns

This Fall we welcome our five interns, Haley Acker, social media; Jennifer Butler, Rural Grocery project coordinator; Logan Falletti, writing and research; Jared Wasinger, media; and Katy Weidner, events. 

Rural Grocery Summit III. Strengthening Our Stores. Strengthening Our Communities.

The third national Rural Grocery Summit was held in Manhattan, KS on June 5 and 6, 2012. We had over 175 participants from 14 different states in attendance. Please click on the link below to see the breakout session PowerPoints.

Rural Grocery Store Funded By Non-Profit Organization

For the residents of Plains, Kan., a ‘quick trip’ to the grocery store is a thing of the past. Since this rural community’s store closed in 2001, residents have been forced to travel a minimum of 14 miles to purchase food – a 28-mile round trip. But for this population of fewer than 1,500, the trip to the local grocery is going to get shorter. The Community Enhancement Foundation of Plains, a non-profit organization developed by five local citizens, is in the process of bringing a grocery store back to the community.

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Strengthening rural grocery stores through customer service

Kansas Grocery Earns Small Business Award

A western Kansas couple, Gordon and Mary Jenkins, have earned the 2012 Kansas Small Business Persons of the Year Award. These owners were praised for their grocery store, Cimarron Shurfine Foods, which serves Cimarron, Kan., pop. 2,000. As the only grocery store owners to receive this award from the Small Business Administration, the Jenkins were honored for their customer service, community outreach and business growth. The couple purchased the local grocery in 2007, and since then, has strived to uphold small-town values by caring for their customers.

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Customer Service a Family’s Priority

For the Floersch family, there’s no such thing as a ‘typical day.’ As the owners of Ray’s Apple Market, a local grocery store serving Manhattan, Kan., Mike, Aaron and Tom Floersch strive to provide “modern stores with old-fashioned service.” The trio is following in the steps of Ray Floersch, the father of Mike and Tom and grandfather of Aaron, who started the business nearly 48 years ago. These grocers work to remain competitive with other chain grocers in town by maintaining relationships with their customers and the local community.

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Rural Grocery Stores are Integral to the Health and Well-Being of Small Kansas Communities: K-State Journalism and Mass Communication Students Tell the Rural Grocery Story

Journalism and Digital Media students in five classes at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications spent spring of 2011 developing multimedia content designed to tell an important story: Rural grocery stores are integral to the health and well-being of small Kansas communities. Partnering with K-State's Center for Engagement and Community Development's Rural Grocery Initiative, which began in 2007, the students visited more than a dozen towns and cities in Kansas and Missouri to explore the challenges faced both by rural grocery store owners and by communities that lack access to a variety of reasonably priced, healthful foods. The students learned that the issues surrounding food access and community sustainability in Kansas mirror the significant challenges faced by rural areas nationwide.

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Featured Event

Rural Grocery Summit Logo
Rural Grocery Summit IV: Strengthening Our Stores. Strengthening Our Communities. This summit was held June 9-10, 2014, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Manhattan, KS.


Rural Grocery Initiative TV Spot Airs on Fox News.