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High school students address food deserts


December 6, 2010
By John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs
Students at Cody-Kilgore wanted to start a student-run, community-owned grocery store. Their rural Nebraska town (population 149) lost their store and residents were forced to travel 70 miles round trip for groceries. Several teachers contacted the Center for Rural Affairs, and the idea grew into a student business incubator with a grocery store as the flagship business

The project focuses on entrepreneurship education including: planning the business; developing skills in marketing, facilitation and leadership; and purchasing and maintaining equipment. Training and technical assistance are being provided by the Center for Rural Affairs and others.

The Cody-Kilgore students weren’t the first to start a grocery store. In Arthur, Nebr. students successfully opened a grocery store after their rural Sandhills community (population 145) grocery closed almost ten years ago. Eight students planned, rallied support, and opened the Wolf Den grocery store, which remains open to this day.

Leeton, Mo., population 619, also lost their grocery store 10 years back. Teachers at Leeton saw an opportunity to teach students business ownership skills and keep dollars in their community. Students took on the job, and it quickly became a town project. The store has been running since January 2009.

Center for Rural Affairs research (see Rural Grocery Stores: Ownership Models That Work at ) has found school-based grocery stores to be a viable ownership model for rural communities that can help provide crucial local access to food. Moreover, these initiatives foster entrepreneurship, enhance education and provide inspiration to students and community members alike.


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