MARKETMAKEOVERS.ORG is a dynamic, user-friendly online resource about the process of making over small corner stores to carry healthier food choices in areas that are “food deserts.”

“Food deserts” exist across the country. Supermarkets are scarce; quality produce is hard to find. Consequently, the rates of obesity and diabetes are alarmingly high and growing. is designed to serve a national community of public health practitioners, advocates, community activists, educators and policymakers. It currently features the work of local high school students, Public Matters and the South L.A. Healthy Eating Active Community (HEAC) Initiative using the conversions of three corner stores in South L.A. as case studies. The site will soon expand to include forthcoming Market Makeover projects in East Los Angeles.

MARKETMAKEOVERS.ORG is a combination of pragmatic information and creative, innovative strategies in multiple presentation formats: downloadable, user-friendly how-to’s of market makeovers as well as innovative youth-generated videos that provide context about the food desert – its history, consequences and documentation of efforts to alleviate it.

MARKETMAKEOVERS.ORG is an evolving guide: a repository of information, best practices and lessons learned; a forum for exchange; and a springboard for advancing work in this burgeoning field.

MARKETMAKEOVERS.ORG includes innovative video content through three media channels that feature guests such as:
The Kitchen Sisters, NPR
Hannah Laurison, Public Health Law & Policy
WYSE (West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered)
Mary Lee, PolicyLink


A market makeover (a.k.a. corner store conversion) aims to increase healthy food access in areas designated as food deserts by transforming an existing local store (liquor store, mini-mart, or bodega) so that it offers fresh produce and a healthier inventory to its customers. At, we also see the process as a significant opportunity for civic engagement and community building.

Community members work directly on the store transformation and take ownership of the market makeover solution. It’s not glamorous work, but it ultimately strives to provide long-term benefit to the community-at-large. The market makeover process encompasses both supply and demand. In addition to working with storeowners to increase the supply of fresh and healthy food in local stores, Public Matters works with community members to create and demonstrate consistent demand (increased sales and consumption of fruits and vegetables among customers) through strategic education and social marketing efforts.


Overweight + obesity have become the greatest threats to our health. Many obesity prevention interventions in the past have focused on changing individual behavior, without adequately addressing the need for systemic environmental change. Where we live determines our eating and physical activity habits. In low-income regions of the United States, including many inner city areas and rural regions, healthy options are commonly hard to find. The dramatic increase in obesity over the past two decades is related to an environment burdened with inexpensive, high-calorie convenience foods and super-sized portions, as well as a marked decrease in physical activity.

THERE IS NO SINGLE, QUICK FIX FOR THE FOOD DESERT. Market makeovers are one strategy that aims to prevent obesity by increasing healthy food access in areas where comprehensive grocery development is not forthcoming. The market makeover strategy is grassroots and participatory, working directly with community residents, community organizations and market owners to offer fresh, good quality fruits and vegetables to consumers consistently and reliably. It works with a community’s existing assets to transform markets from public health blights into community health resources.


From 2007-2009, the South L.A. Healthy Eating Active Communities Initiative (HEAC) and Public Matters worked on a highly successful public health, civic engagement and leadership development project with high school students from The Accelerated School (TAS). The South L.A. Healthy Eating Active Community Initiative (HEAC) is one of six sites in a state-wide initiative funded by The California Endowment (TCE) with the goal of reducing childhood obesity and diabetes by increasing access to nutritious food and physical activity opportunities for children and families.

more about Market Makeovers in South LA  >>
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top: HEAC Youth Ambassadors rearrange inventory at Los Compadres Market, summer 2008middle: HEAC Youth Ambassador Britanni Dighero takes the podium, Los Compadres Market Grand Re-Opening, December 2008.

bottom: Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry (CD-9), HEAC Program Coordinator Aurora Flores and HEAC Youth Ambassadors (Britanni Dighero, Jessica Orellana, Andrea Vazquez, Adriana Moreno, Jonathan Contreras), Los Compadres Market Grand Re-Opening, December 2008.

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