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Rural Grocery Initiative

Rural Grocery Summit

Local grocery stores are vital to America’s rural communities. These stores are part of the economic engine that sustains rural communities—providing essential jobs and taxes. They are an important source of nutrition and health, providing a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein. Grocery stores are also where we meet friends, catch up on the latest news and stay connected. Like schools, restaurants and post offices, rural grocery stores are community assets that attract and retain citizens. A thriving local grocery store is a sign of a healthy community.

Yet, all too often we hear of another store closing.

Because the loss of a rural grocery store threatens the health of local citizens and the very existence of that community, Kansas State University and a broad range of partners launched the Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI) in 2007. Since that time, we have worked hard to understand rural grocery challenges and provide workable solutions to address those challenges.

We hosted our fourth National Rural Grocery Summit in Manhattan, Kansas on June 9-10, 2014 to offer the latest and best ideas regarding rural grocery operations. This year, over 200 participants from 16 different states attended this important conference. Participants ranged from store owners, concerned citizens, funders, non-profits, government agencies, food suppliers, university researchers and business leaders. We spent two days talking with one another about the "triple bottom line" of rural grocery benefits—economic development, nutritional health and community sustainability.

The fourth National Rural Grocery Summit:

  • spotlighted the latest and best thinking about rural grocery stores and rural community sustainability;
  • demonstrated the nutritional, economic development and community benefits rural grocery stores provide;
  • highlighted rural grocery store success stories;
  • provided an opportunity to talk directly with funders, grocery distributors and grocery owners, and
  • identified strategies to establish and sustain local grocery stores.

View the Rural Grocery Summit IV PowerPoint slides, agenda and sponsors.

We would like to again thank all of the sponsors, supporters and participants who continue to make it possible to explore ways to strengthen our rural grocery stores and communities. We look forward to seeing you at the fifth National Rural Grocery Summit in 2016.