Call for Presentations

Seventh National Rural Grocery Summit
Strengthening Community | Strengthening Health
The Rural Grocery Store
June 8-9, 2020
Hilton Garden Inn, Manhattan, Kansas

Submitting a Proposal-CLOSED

Please submit your papers or abstract proposals via email by February 28, 2020. Submission should be electronically to: with the subject line “Rural Grocery Summit Proposal.”

About the Summit

Rural grocery stores are an anchor business in rural communities. They are a primary source of local jobs and represent a significant source of local sales tax. Rural grocery stores serve as community gathering spaces, building bonds of local community, and attracting and retaining residents. Rural grocery stores also offer more healthy food, at lower cost, than rural discount retailers.

The loss of a rural grocery store threatens the health of local citizens and the very existence of rural communities. Unfortunately, since 2008, 105 grocery stores in rural Kansas have closed their doors and in 50% of those communities a new store has not re-opened.

In 2007, K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development launched the Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI) whose mission is to provide resources to help establish and sustain independently-owned rural grocery stores. RGI works to serve as the national source of evidence­based information for rural grocery questions, identify and respond to the significant challenges that rural grocery stores face, highlight and promote sustainable models of rural grocery operation, and strengthen access to healthy foods.

To advance RGI goals, we are proud to announce that on June 8-9, 2020, we will host the Seventh National Rural Grocery Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan, Kansas. At this biennial summit we will bring together store owners, citizen leaders, food suppliers, academic researchers, healthy food access stakeholders, policy makers, and funders to talk with one another about how best to sustain this critical small business and improve rural access to healthy foods.

In an effort to address the growing crisis regarding rural food access and rural community sustainability, Kansas State University and the Center for Engagement and Community Development are pleased to host Rural Grocery Summit VII. Over 200 participants attended our last rural grocery summit and we are expecting a larger meeting this year. We are writing to invite you and/or your organization to consider presenting your work at this important conference.

Please plan to join us on June 8-9, 2020 in Manhattan, Kansas as we work to strengthen rural grocery stores that are the cornerstones of our rural communities.



Project presentations, posters, case studies, original research and/or abstracts, should be broadly related to rural grocery development and/or sustainability.  Presentation at the Rural Grocery Summit VII may take the form of:

  1. Paper Presentation Proposal: Designed to highlight a particular strategy, research project, and/or resource around a shared topic, issue, or action.  The paper presentation should be presented with content and in a manner that generates interest and discussion.  Paper presenters will be organized by issue or topic area and will involve participants from different institutions, centers, and organizations and will provide a variety of ideas on a particular topic area.  Presenters should plan on 10-15 minutes of oral presentation, followed by Q & A.  For more information and instruction on how to submit a paper presentation, please review the Paper Requirements (
  2. Panel Presentation: Designed to propose an entire panel session.  The format is identical as described above in the paper presentation, except that your submission should identify the topic to be discussed and identify the other panelists who will participate.  Your panel proposal must include commitments from the other panel speakers.  Panel presentations begin with short statements (10-15 minutes) by each paper presenter, followed by Q & A opportunities from the audience.
  3. Poster Proposal: Conference attendees may present and solicit feedback on their existing and emerging projects by displaying a poster at a session dedicated to that format.  Posters typically mix a brief narrative description with photographs, organizational or historical charts, maps, videos, or other modes of presentation.  Poster presentations may be research poster (empirical research), community action research, participatory research, or a poster that highlights a theoretical/philosophical perspective.  Additionally, posters may be practitioner outreach posters highlighting innovative ideas and practices, programmatic successes and/or reflections.  For more information and instructions on how to submit a poster, please review the Poster Requirements (

Key presentation/panel topic areas may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Food deserts
  2. Food access
  3. Food insecurity
  4. Rural grocery best practices, including but not limited to:
    1. Customer service
    2. Operating costs
    3. Competition with “big box chain” grocery stores
    4. Meeting minimum buying requirements
    5. Dealing with labor issues (a lack of labor and/or quality of labor)
    6. Dealing with a lack of community support
    7. Increasing sales volume
    8. Rural shopping patterns
    9. Marketing grocery stores
  5. Models of grocery store ownership
  6. Food distribution systems
  7. Grocery stores as civic and cultural spaces
    1. Community meeting spaces
    2. Educational centers
    3. Culture centers
  8. Food hubs
  9. Financing store operations
  10. Policy options to strengthen healthy food access

Dates to Remember

More Information

For more information on the Rural Grocery Summit VII or the Rural Grocery Initiative (RGI) please visit our website at or contact us at:

Center for Engagement and Community Development
324 Nichols Hall
702 Mid-Campus Drive South
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-2300
Phone: 785-532-6868
Fax: 785-532-6808