The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance: A novel policy approach to improving healthy food offerings in neighborhoods without full-service grocery stores

In 2014, the Minneapolis City Council approved and adopted what is now known as the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance. The legislation amended a 2008 law, which was the first city ordinance in the country to require that licensed grocery stores carry a minimum level of certain staple foods. Most notably, the 2014 amendments strengthened the prior legislation by tightening compliance loopholes and mandating a more comprehensive range of staple-food stocking requirements.

Click here to learn about research findings and December 2018 amendments and listen to the update audio companion!

In 2009, the Minneapolis Health Department began looking at ways to improve the availability of healthy foods in parts of the city with high levels of unhealthy-weights. City health data indicated there was a correlation between low fruit and vegetable consumption and poor health outcomes, including diabetes and hypertension. Additionally, community partners were telling the Health Department that some of the city’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods did not have equitable access to fresh produce and other healthy food options.

Health Department staff recognized that many residents in these neighborhoods were often relying on small stores—like corner stores, gas stations, dollar stores, and pharmacies—for their food needs. They also recognized that many of those stores were not offering much in the way of produce or other healthy food options. With this awareness, the Health Department sought to address the specific problem of limited healthy food and beverage options within retail food stores in neighborhoods without full-service grocery stores.

map of minneapolis minnesota

Key Demographics
Population: 1
Land Area (in sq. mi):
Race/Ethnicity: 2
Population by Age: 2
Education: 3
Median Household Income: 3
Population in Poverty: 3
Low Income and Low Food Access: 4

Over the next few years, staff at the Minneapolis Health Department worked with the office of Minneapolis City Councilmember Cam Gordon, as well as a variety of other partners, to develop what is now known as the “Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.” That legislation, which is officially simply titled “Grocery Stores,” is located at Title 10, Chapter 203 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances.2 It was passed in 2014 and requires most businesses that are licensed as grocery stores to stock certain amounts of basic food items, including the following categories:

  • Milk;
  • Cheese;
  • Eggs;
  • Meat and vegetable protein sources;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • 100% juice;
  • Whole grain cereal;
  • Other whole grains;
  • Canned beans; and
  • Dried peas, beans, lentils.3

For each of the mandatory categories, additional requirements are specified, including permissible varieties, minimum unit amounts, and container sizes. For example, to meet the milk stocking requirements, stores must carry “five (5) gallons of unsweetened, unflavored, fluid cow’s milk in up to 1 gallon or half-gallon containers in any combination of at least two (2) of the following varieties: skim or nonfat, one (1) percent, or two (2) percent, or “plain” or “original” soy milk or other milk alternatives.”4 Essentially, the ordinance says that stores that hold themselves out as grocery stores need to act like grocery stores and provide a variety of staple foods.

BACKGROUND: Developments that contributed to policy change

In addition to evidence pointing to a need for increased healthy food access in some parts of the city, the momentum for the 2014 Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance was driven by at least three key developments that happened at both the local and federal levels.

Timeline of Events


Minneapolis enacts first-of-its kind legislation requiring grocery stores to stock certain staple foods.

The Minneapolis Health Department begins assessing ways to curb unhealthy weights in communities with limited healthy food access.

New Federal WIC food package standards are implemented.


The Minneapolis Health Department launches its Healthy Corner Store Program.

Serious discussions regarding potential changes to the 2008 grocery store ordinance begin.

Planning, community engagement and drafting of the 2014 Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance continues.

Community Partner, BrightSide Produce is founded in June.

The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance is adopted on October 31.


The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance goes into effect on April 1, with enforcement delayed for one year to allow time for implementation.

Enforcement of the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance begins on April 1.
fresh milk on store shelf
Courtesy: Kristen Klingler at Minneapolis Department of Health

Previous City-Level Legislation

The first development came in the form of 2008 amendments to strengthen operating requirements in what was initially a more basic grocery store licensing ordinance. Minneapolis Councilmember Cam Gordon, who sponsored both the 2008 and 2014 legislative changes, recalls many smaller stores were licensed as grocery stores but were really acting primarily as tobacco shops or other businesses, and only selling “a little bit of junk food.” As he puts it, the 2008 legislation was a way of saying, “If you are going to be a grocery store in our licensing code, act like one; have some actual food.”

One idea was to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requirements as a baseline for licensing. However, during the drafting process Councilmember Gordon became aware that the food requirements for that program were, in his words, “abysmal.” As a result, he decided that at least a few staple-food-category requirements should be incorporated into the 2008 ordinance. As enacted, the 2008 ordinance required most establishments operating as licensed grocery stores to stock a specified number of varieties of foods from four basic categories (fruits and vegetables; dairy; bread or cereal; and meat, poultry, fish or vegetable proteins).5

The 2008 legislation was the first city ordinance in the country to mandate that grocery stores carry staple foods, but it was just the beginning.6 In fact, Councilmember Gordon’s Policy Aide, Robin Garwood, recalls being surprised by how much interest there was about the 2008 legislation and coming to the realization that there was a need to bolster it to make it really impactful. Councilmember Gordon could see that was the way forward too. According to him, “It just seemed like the most effective way to actually make a difference was to change policy. We had this tool and we were regulating grocery stores already and if we wanted them to sell more foods, we could strengthen the ordinance.”

Changing Federal Standards

The second key development was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s introduction of new requirements for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The new WIC standards were implemented by state agencies in 2009.7 They were recommended by the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) and provided a workable model for a more robust set of grocery stocking requirements in Minneapolis.8

Councilmember Gordon recalls that—in addition to facilitating compliance—using WIC standards appeared to be a promising path for improving health outcomes. Specifically, there was at least one study that pointed to improved healthy weight rates among children following changes to the WIC requirements.9

A City-Level Voluntary Program

The third key development was a 2010 Minneapolis Health Department initiative known as the Healthy Corner Store Program. The program was created after Health Department officials began looking at whether the enhanced operating requirements in the 2008 grocery store licensing ordinance were increasing the availability of healthy foods.

The Healthy Corner Store Program was essentially a technical assistance package for store owners who were willing to voluntarily put more healthy foods on their shelves. Ultimately, the program provided evidence to support the conclusion that stores could achieve additional revenue by changing their product mix to include healthier options. However, the program was resource-intensive and limited in reach—serving less than 20% of the city’s corner stores.

Given those limitations, the Minneapolis Health Department decided to look at the specific policy option of strengthening the 2008 grocery store ordinance to broaden its reach and promote sustainable change.


The process of developing what became the 2014 Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance began around 2012. Kristen Klingler, Assistant Manager of the Healthy Living Initiative at the Minneapolis Health Department, recalls that there was a core group involved in conceptualizing and drafting the 2014 ordinance. This group was comprised of staff from the Health Department, Councilmember Gordon’s office, staff from the Business and Licensing Department, and Dr. Melissa Laska from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

In terms of community outreach, Councilmember Gordon recalls that the public was engaged through the city’s food policy council, Homegrown Minneapolis, which held open houses and created posters. Homegrown Minneapolis and Dr. Laska’s research team at the University of Minnesota also helped the Health Department evaluate the potential impact of the ordinance and advocated for the legislation. In addition, the Health Department received input from community members through other initial healthy food access work and at a public hearing before the Minneapolis City Council.

In addition to the general public, the Health Department and other partners also reached out to store owners across the city and to other industry representatives through focus groups, meetings with businesses and business associations, and mailings.

assorted fresh fruits and vegetables
Courtesy: Kristen Klingler at Minneapolis Department of Health

Policy Drafting

The drafters relied on the earlier 2008 legislation as a starting point for the 2014 legislation and used WIC requirements as a framework for enhancing the ordinance’s stocking requirements. However, the University of Minnesota research team proposed modifications to the WIC standards based on the data they collected. As a result, the drafters made the stocking requirements in the Staple Foods Ordinance generally less prescriptive than the WIC standards. For instance, under the Staple Foods Ordinance, the vegetable stocking standards are more flexible to accommodate customer needs and cultural preferences for various types of produce.


Likewise, rather than just increasing the stocking requirements, the drafters also tried to minimize loopholes in the 2008 legislation while still recognizing three exemptions for certain types of stores.

One exemption is for gas stations with less than 300 square feet of retail sales area.10 The drafters included it in recognition that some smaller operations are legitimately engaged in the primary business of selling gas.

The second exemption they included applies to businesses that meet the definition of “accessory use grocery.”11 The drafters created it to allow gift shops and stores exclusively selling narrow categories of foods like olive oil or spices to continue to operate within their niches without being required to stock a full array of grocery items. It replaced a more vague “specialty food store” exception in the 2008 legislation and specifies that a business cannot meet the definition of an “accessory use grocery” if it accepts government supplemental nutrition programs (like SNAP or WIC).12 Nevertheless, Councilmember Gordon is still concerned that the exemption may be a “big loophole.”

The third exemption applies to stores located in the central commercial district (i.e., downtown Minneapolis).13 The drafters included it because of the district’s unique characteristics. Specifically, the downtown area’s residents are generally more affluent than the communities the drafters intended to target and its retail environment includes stores that cater specifically to day-time business in Minneapolis’s skyway system.

Notably, although the drafters intended to address the issue of low-quality food offerings in retail stores in target neighborhoods, with the exception of the central commercial corridor district exemption, the ordinance applies city-wide.

Linkages: Economic opportunities and equity issues

During the drafting process, Health Department staff saw that the ordinance might have beneficial economic impacts in addition to health impacts. Among other things, they hoped the planned changes to the law might support local economies by keeping purchases in the communities where people live and by generating additional revenue through increased product offerings.

As suggested above, they also saw the ordinance as an opportunity to improve equity. In particular, they recognized the unhealthy-weight issues and nutrition-related chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes that they were seeking to address are experienced at relatively higher rates by particular socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups.

Like Health Department staff, Councilmember Gordon also saw the proposed ordinance as an obvious mechanism for addressing health inequities among different racial groups. However, during the process it became clear to him the legislation could have unintended negative consequences for minority store owners if the policy was not carefully crafted. Specifically, he realized many of the small store owners that would be most affected by the law were people of color whose businesses were already struggling.

That realization compelled the drafters to look for ways to provide technical assistance to support successful implementation and compliance.

“All of a sudden it became clear to me that I might inadvertently be doing something that was going to create more disparities. It forced us to slow down.”

-Minneapolis Councilmember Cam Gordon

Implementation: Facilitation, compliance, and enforcement

Ultimately, although not mentioned in the language of the ordinance itself, implementation supports were created. Specifically, staff from the Health Department worked with store owners to connect them to opportunities for low-interest loans, free merchandising supplies, refrigeration equipment, and other resources.

Still, many small store owners face the fundamental compliance challenge of being unable to source affordable produce in the quantities they need. In particular, local produce suppliers are structured to sell wholesale to full-service grocery stores. This means they are selling produce in pallets, rather than pieces. The scale of that distribution model does not work for small stores, whose owners typically end up buying produce from other retail stores (and thus at retail prices) and then marking it up for sale to their customers. As a result, fruits and vegetables are often not affordable and may simply sit on the shelf.

To ameliorate the issue, City staff worked with the University of St. Thomas and local youth to create an innovative nonprofit distributor called BrightSide Produce (“Brightside”). BrightSide facilitates compliance with the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance by selling small quantities of high-quality produce to the small stores it serves at just a 10 percent markup over wholesale prices. The key to BrightSide’s distribution model is a buyers’ club made up of individuals who sign up to receive produce bundles in different sizes, depending on their subscription level. The club essentially acts as a secondary buying pool that generates revenue and absorbs the surplus from bulk produce orders that exceed the stocking needs of the small stores BrightSide serves.

Notably, although buyers’ club members pay a somewhat higher mark-up than Brightside’s retail customers, they still receive the produce at prices that are more affordable than they would typically find at a grocery store. Members also report that their produce consumption has doubled on average as a result of being part of the program. University of Saint Thomas professor Adam Kay runs BrightSide with the help of university students and community youth. “People are eating better,” he says. “They’re not joining to eat better. They’re joining this in order to contribute to a social movement, but the consequence is that they’re eating better.”

In addition to increased produce access in underserved neighborhoods and increased produce consumption by club members, economic benefits also flow from BrightSide’s work. For example, BrightSide hires youth in the communities they serve to help deliver produce and build relationships with store owners. This provides leadership opportunities for the young people, but also benefits BrightSide’s mission because store owners are excited about working with them. Moreover, the youth employed by BrightSide are paid fifteen dollars an hour, which is considerably higher than current city or state minimum-wage requirements.14

Despite the benefits of BrightSide’s model for retailers, communities, and consumers, compliance challenges are likely to continue for many small store owners. While Professor Kay is optimistic about expanding the model, BrightSide is currently working with just 20 to 25 stores. Moreover, even stores with significant buying power may find compliance to be a challenge—or simply an unwanted business expense. In fact, in May of 2016, one dollar store chain announced it would no longer accept SNAP benefits so that it would not have to follow the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.15

Additionally, logistics associated with issuing penalties and fines are another implementation complication of the Staple Foods Ordinance. One concern is that City health inspectors typically do not issue fines right away, but instead provide written warnings to allow store owners several opportunities to fix the problem. As a result, knowing that there will not be immediate penalties, some store owners may not try very hard to comply. Still, according to Kristen Klingler, compliance was above 60 percent in 2016, which is an increase from around 50 to 55 percent in 2015 when the ordinance first went into effect.

Brightside: Barbara Fuller, Mackenzie Burke, Deedee Fuller, Adam Pruitt. Photo by: ThreeSixty Journalism
Brightside: Ben Kachian, Steven Fuller, Tiara Gowen. Photo by: Emma Button
Brightside: Adam Pruitt, Deedee Fuller, Carly Dent. Photo by: Nora Gordon
Brightside: Nick Hodge, Photo by: Adam Kay

Policy Impact

After the 2014 Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance went into effect on April 1, 2015, enforcement was delayed for one year to provide time for education, communication and technical assistance. At the time this case study was written, enforcement has been in effect for less than two years. Accordingly, Ms. Klingler says it is too early to fully know whether the ordinance is having the desired effects of increasing healthy food consumption and access in parts of the city with high levels of unhealthy weights.

Dr. Melissa Laska, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, is currently evaluating the impacts of the ordinance with respect to both customer and store-owner behaviors. However, the study is not yet complete. In the absence of hard data, anecdotal evidence may suggest a gap between the available supply of healthy foods and the amounts that are actually being purchased.

Likewise, store owner behavioral changes may not be consistent. Ms. Klingler believes some store owners are embracing the requirements and experiencing increased sales. However, she also notes that others may be continuing to hold on to perceptions that their customers do not want to purchase some or all of the foods required under the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance.

Lessons Learned

Some key lessons and best practices were shared by the experts we spoke with for this case study. These lessons include the following:

  • Understand enforcement limitations. The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance may not be attaining maximum compliance due, in part, to limited enforcement. Lack of enforcement capacity and long-standing inspection processes and procedures may lead to similar situations in other municipalities.

  • Be prepared for obstacles to changing healthy food consumption patterns. Although the research is pending, expanded healthy food offerings in Minneapolis grocery stores may not be enough to change buying habits. Coupling staple foods ordinances with demand-generation efforts such as marketing, financial incentives, or other strategies may also be required.

  • Consider “equity” from multiple angles. Although the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance was aimed at increasing healthy food access in economically disadvantaged areas of the city, proponents quickly realized it also had the potential to have unintended adverse impacts for minority store owners, who often own the types of stores most affected by the ordinance. This understanding was important for facilitating implementation because it led to increased technical assistance and other supports for store owners.

Case Study Update: Research Findings and December 2018 Amendments

The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance was amended in December 2018 after feedback from various sources indicated changes were needed to make the law more flexible.1 This update summarizes the stakeholder feedback that led to the amendments and the resulting changes to the law. In addition, it includes information regarding research conducted between 2014 and 2017 about compliance with and the effectiveness of the ordinance during that time period.

Listen to the update audio companion featuring:
    • Dr. Melissa Laska, University of Minnesota
    • Kristin Klingler, Minneapolis Health Department
    • Councilmember Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council


In 2008, Minneapolis enacted first-of-its-kind legislation that required grocery stores to stock certain staple foods as a condition of their grocery business licenses. That ordinance became known as the Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance and was subsequently amended in 2014. The 2014 changes modified the grocery stocking requirements specified by the ordinance and aligned them closely with federal requirements for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (the WIC Program). (See the full case study above for this prior history.)

However, between April 2015 and December 2018, city staff and officials began to understand that the requirements did not allow for flexibility in stocking various healthy foods to accommodate differences in some traditional cultural dietary practices. As a result, some store owners were having trouble meeting the stocking requirements of the ordinance while others were not selling items they were required to stock.

The Minneapolis City Council amended the Staple Foods Ordinance in December 2018. According to Minneapolis staff and officials, the changes were intended to help store owners meet the requirements by increasing flexibility and allowing for culturally-appropriate products to accommodate the needs of their customers. A detailed summary of the changes is provided below.


Information about the ordinance’s effectiveness prompted the policy revisions. Initially, health inspectors reported anecdotal information to other staff at the Minneapolis Health Department that store owners were having difficulty meeting the requirements of the ordinance. In addition, one owner of an Asian grocery store brought particular concerns to the attention of Councilmember Cam Gordon regarding stocking requirements related to dairy products. This led Councilmember Gordon to recognize that the ordinance’s stocking requirements were based on “mainstream Euro-American” food norms and made him concerned that the ordinance was “targeting” culturally focused grocery stores.

Kristen Klingler, Senior Public Health Specialist at the Minneapolis Health Department, advised that the Health Department conducted field research in the summer of 2018 to try to understand compliance challenges. An intern with the Department interviewed 50 owners of small ethnic grocery stores and asked them open-ended, qualitative questions about whom they were serving, what their typical customers looked like, what their customers were shopping for, and if the owners had any challenges stocking the staple foods required by the 2014 version of the ordinance. Some of the feedback from these interviews led to the changes in the policy that are discussed below.

Another factor that influenced the policy amendments happened right before the city started to go through the process of adopting them. According to Ms. Klingler, there was a proposed zero-waste store that would not have been able to meet the stocking requirements of the ordinance due to limitations of its business model. The store would have qualified as an “accessory use grocery” (a category of store exempted from the ordinance’s stocking requirements), except the would-be owners wanted to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, which would have taken them out of that exemption. Ms. Klingler recalled that “the store was going to be stocking lots of healthy, good things in bulk. And we really liked the concept, and we didn’t want to stand in the way of that.” This situation and the possibility that other similar situations might arise also influenced some of the changes to the ordinance. According to Councilmember Gordon, stakeholder engagement also included various community and staff meetings. Grocery store owners were invited to the community meetings, and the proposed ordinance changes were discussed and brought to Minneapolis’s food council, known as Homegrown Minneapolis, and the city’s Public Health Advisory group.


Following the above-noted stakeholder engagement and feedback phases, the Minneapolis City Council amended the ordinance on December 7, 2018. Changes of note include the elimination of cheese, eggs, and whole grain cereals as required categories, as well as the elimination of separate categories for dried legumes and canned beans. These food items are still allowable, but as optional components of broader categories (dairy/dairy alternatives, animal and vegetable proteins, whole grains, and legumes, respectively).

Other changes were also made to make these categories more flexible.16 Kristen Klingler indicated city officials made specific changes to the dairy/dairy alternative category to allow for products such as kefir and yogurt to better fit the dietary practices of some cultural groups.17 Prior to the revisions, the requirements also stated that eggs needed to be “large” and in a pack of twelve. The new requirements do not state a specific size or number for each container, thereby allowing for more options, such as quail eggs, which are smaller and not commonly sold in packages of twelve.

A full summary of the December 2018 changes to the stocking requirements is provided in the following table:18

Legislation as of October 31, 2014 Legislation as of December 7, 2018
Required: 5 gallons of unsweetened, unflavored, fluid cow’s milk (1 or ½ gallon each) in any combination of at least two (2) of the following varieties: skim or nonfat, one (1) percent, or two (2) percent, or “plain” or “original” soy milk or other milk alternatives

Required: 6 pounds (at least ½ pound each), 3 varieties, not including processed cheese products

Dairy/dairy alternatives
Required: 8 gallons/pounds in at least three 3 of the following varieties, 2 of which must be milk/milk alternatives:

  • Milk/milk alternatives: unsweetened, unflavored, fluid cow’s milk (skim, 1% or 2% only) or “plain” or “original” soy milk or other cow’s milk alternatives, in containers of at least one (1) quart;
  • Kefir: in containers of at least one (1) quart; in any flavor;
  • Cheese: in packages of at least eight (8) ounces; not including processed cheese products;
  • Yogurt: in containers of at least twenty-two (22) ounces including multi-packs totaling at least twenty-two (22) ounces; in any flavor.
Required: 6 (one dozen each) containers, large size

Meat, fish, poultry, and vegetable proteins
Required: 3 varieties including the option for nut butter (up to 18 ounces)

Animal and vegetable proteins
Required: 4 varieties (eggs included as a variety); option for nut butter of up to 18 ounces.
Fruits and vegetables
Required: 30 pounds or 50 items fresh or frozen, nothing added for 7 varieties, 5 varieties that are fresh, no more than 50% from a single variety
Fruits and vegetables
Required: 30 pounds or 50 items fresh or frozen, 7 varieties total (4 varieties that are fresh), no more than 50% from a single variety
Required: 6 containers of at least 2 containers of 100% citrus juice and any combination of either 11 ½-12-ounce containers of frozen or non-frozen concentrate 100% juice, or 59 ounces or bigger 100% juice
No substantive change to the 2014 requirements
Whole grain cereals
Required: 4 boxes or bags (at least 12 ounces each)

Whole grains
Required: 5 pounds, 3 varieties

Whole grains
Required: 8 pounds, 6 varieties
Canned beans
Required: 192 ounces, 3 varieties

Dried beans, peas, and lentils
Required: 4 packages (up to 16 oz each)

Required: 256 ounces (up to 32 ounces each), 4 varieties

Another change gave the Health Department case-by-case discretion to exempt some stores from the ordinance’s stocking requirements. Specifically, under the change a store that cannot otherwise meet the definition of an exempted “accessory use grocery” because it accepts government food assistance programs may be classified as such if “the store’s inventory and business plan and practices will be sufficient to meet or exceed established public health goals with regard to providing meaningful and local community access to healthy food options.” The change was incorporated into the proposed amendments to allow for stores such as the proposed zero-waste store mentioned above.

Additional Research Information

A research team led by Dr. Melissa Laska at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health collected data from 2014 to 2017 to measure the effect of and compliance with the Staple Foods Ordinance as it existed during that time frame. However, final results were not ready before the December 2018 amendments to the Staple Foods Ordinance. The primary outcomes paper from the study is now available and additional information about the study can be found here.

Dr. Laska’s team is seeing mixed results. Findings indicate there was a significant increase in stores stocking healthy foods, particularly foods specified in the ordinance, since 2014. However, these trends over time did not differ from times trends observed in St. Paul, a control city that did not have a staple foods ordinance and was assessed by Dr. Laska’s team as a comparison site. Similar to the information gathered by the Minneapolis Health Department, Dr. Laska’s data indicates that some stores were having trouble meeting the stocking requirements, which could reflect challenges in stocking culturally appropriate food for their clientele. The recent amendments to the ordinance may help to ameliorate some of those challenges.

While few significant changes in healthy food purchasing have been observed in Dr. Laska’s study data, she does not think this should be particularly discouraging. Instead, she believes that the impacts are likely to require more time. Besides, enforcement is likely impacting the effectiveness of the ordinance. Dr. Laska noted that an insufficient number of health inspectors might be part of the problem. That issue was not addressed in the recent ordinance changes but could be addressed administratively.


The city will monitor the effects of the December 2018 amendments. According to Ms. Klingler, Minneapolis Health Department staff will complete compliance checks in 2019 at grocery stores covered by the ordinance and observe changes made since the recent amendments to review the effectiveness of those changes.


About the Healthy Food Policy Project (HFPP)

The HFPP identifies and elevates local laws that seek to promote access to healthy food while also contributing to strong local economies, an improved environment, and health equity, with a focus on socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups. HFPP is a multiyear collaboration of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, the Public Health Law Center, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Additional Acknowledgements

The HFPP thanks Dr. Melissa Laska, Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health and Co-Director, Obesity Prevention Center at the University of Minnesota; Kristen Klingler, Assistant Manager of the Healthy Living Initiative at the Minneapolis Health Department; Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon and his Policy Aide, Robin Garwood; and University of Saint Thomas Professor/BrightSide Produce Founder, Adam Kay, all of whom participated as interviewees and provided additional background for this case study.

The HFPP also thanks its Advisory Committee members for their guidance and feedback throughout the project. Advisory Committee members are: Dr. David Procter with the Rural Grocery Initiative at Kansas State University, Dr. Samina Raja with Growing Food Connections at the University of Buffalo, and Kathryn Lynch Underwood with the Detroit City Planning Commission. Previous advisory committee members include Pakou Hang with the Hmong American Farmers Association and Emily Broad Leib with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. Renee Gross, JD, served as a project consultant from 2015-2018.


1 This case study relies heavily on information provided during interviews and subsequent communications with Kristen Klingler, Assistant Manager of the Healthy Living Initiative at the Minneapolis Health Department (August 21, 2017); Minneapolis City Councilmember Cam Gordon and his Policy Aide, Robin Garwood (Aug. 30, 2017); and University of Saint Thomas Professor/BrightSide Produce Founder, Adam Kay (Aug. 31, 2017). Similarly, the case study update relies heavily on information provided in additional interviews with Kristen Klingler (May 13, 2019); Councilmember Gordon (April 24, 2019); and an interview with Dr. Melissa Laska at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota (May 8, 2019). The Healthy Food Policy Project collaborators thank these individuals for their contributions. We have not included citations to the information they have contributed throughout the body of this case study, but have relied upon it unless another source is indicated.
2 Minneapolis, Minn., Code. §§ 203.05 -.30 (2017).
3 Id.
4 Id. § 203.10(a)
5 Minneapolis City Council Official Proceedings, Minneapolis, Minn. (February 29, 2008), available at
6Healthy People 2020 [Internet]. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Counting Carrots in Corner Stores: The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance: A Law and Health Policy Project Bright Spot,
7 WIC Program Overview and History, Nat’l WIC Ass’n, (last visited Oct. 13, 2017); Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice: Final Report, Nat’l Acads. Sci. Engineering & Med. 54 (2017), (The new requirements are consistent with federal dietary guidelines and were the first changes to the WIC food package in 35 years.).
8 Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice: Final Report, Nat’l Acads. Sci. Engineering & Med. 51, 83 (2017), available at
9 M.A. Chiason et al., Changing WIC Changes What Children Eat, 21:7 Obesity 1423 (2013), available at
10 Minnneapolis, Minn., Code. §§ 203.10, 203.30 (defining an “accessory use grocery” generally as a “retail establishment that sells staple foods as an accessory use to its primary business, or sells only specialized types or classes of staple foods and accessory foods…”).
11 Id. § 203.30.
12 Id.
13 Id.
14 Minimum Wage, Minneapolis, Minn., (last visited Oct. 13, 2017); Labor Standards — Minnesota’s Minimum-Wage Law, Minn. Dep’t Labor & Indus., (last visited Oct. 13, 2017).
15 Erin Golden, Minneapolis Healthy Food Rules Prompt Dollar Tree to Drop Food Stamp Benefits, Star Tribune (May 6, 2016), visited Oct. 13, 2017)
16 City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Staple Food Ordinance: Comparison of Past to Current Requirements as of 12/7/18, (2018),, available at
17 Among other things, information gathered by the Minneapolis Health Department indicated a number of East African-owned stores had difficulty meeting the requirements of the cheese category.
18 This table is an adaption of a table found at the link supplied at endnote 2, supra.

Key Demographics Table Notes

1 Source: Vintage 2016 Population Estimates: Population Estimates
2 Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Quick Facts
3 Source: 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Profiles
4 Source: 2015 USDA/ERS Food Access Data

Help us improve this site!

Help us improve this website by taking a quick two-minute survey.