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Community Health Leaders Launch VIVA Healthy Corner Store Pilot 

click to enlarge LEA THOMPSON
  • Lea Thompson
For Southside San Antonio families — particularly those living in District 3, the city's largest and most food-insecure district — it's easier to buy food from the neighborhood corner store than it is to find a supermarket.

That's why city and community health leaders — meeting outside the Red Rooster Mart on Friday morning — launched the VIVA SA Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a pilot program that will bring affordable, high-quality fruits and vegetables foods to area corner stores.

“In response to an outcry from residents regarding lack of grocery stores, I wanted to implement a program that would be truly transformative for both the City of San Antonio and [local neighborhoods],” said District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran. “Creating pocket grocery stores with reliable access to affordable produce will enable residents to have access to healthier options.”

The program — developed by a partnership between the District 3 Office, Metro Health, University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio Food Policy Council, San Antonio Food Bank, Happi Foodi and River City Produce — has introduced the program to two area corner stores, with the hopes of bringing fresh foods to up to 10 stores in the area.

Staff from the Food Bank and UIW plan to offer free cooking demos and recipes to participating program locations like the Red Rooster Food Mart and Gas'NGo Food Mart.

The program could significantly lower health issues like diabetes, kidney failure and amputations "and potentially save San Antonio $400 million dollars in health-related costs,” said Dr. Anil Mangla of the UIW School of Medicine.

If successful, organizers plan to expand the program to other food deserts throughout the city. For more information, or to join the VIVA SA Healthy Corner Store Initiative, visit

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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