Dec 1, 2018

Minneapolis Food Ordinance

During 2016, Minneapolis enacted the Staple Food Ordinance which requires all grocery stores, with few exceptions, to keep on hand fresh produce, and other healthy foods that city politicians felt they needed in order to change the eating habits of the public.

Two years later the city has found no discernible increase in the amount of healthy food people are buying. It also found the healthy food mandate is leading to frustrated grocers and reports of food waste, due customers not buying the mandated items.

A survey of 3,000 customers outside selected convenience stores was conducted to see if the Ordinance was actually encouraging people to buy healthier foods. So far, it has not. The survey shows "We did not see any significant changes in the healthfulness of customer purchasing. We can't point to customer purchasing and say purchases are getting healthier as a whole."

In addition, a survey found just 10% of stores were compliant. The law requires, among other items, stores must keep six one-dozen containers of eggs on hand; 6-count or 18-count containers do not count toward this requirement. Nor do one-dozen containers if the eggs inside are medium or extra-large size. Stores must stock approximately 13 cans of beans, but baked beans do not count toward this requirement, nor do cans that mix beans and meat, despite canned meat being another requirement.

The rigid requirements are a large problem for ethnic grocers, who are forced to stock foods that are not used in their customers' native cuisines. Owners are questioning whether the law is perpetuating institutional racism and cultural bias.

After two years, the mandates in Minneapolis have produced few observable health gains, a number of upset store managers, increases in food waste, increased costs, and frustrated customers. The findings mirror some of the same problems as the school lunch dictates did.