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K-State Research and Extension's Rural Grocery Initiative will host the Natural Rural Grocery Summit in Wichita on June 20-21.

National Rural Grocery Summit slated June 20-21 in Wichita

K-State’s Rural Grocery Initiative plans national event focused on strategies for strengthening rural grocery stores

April 20, 2022

K-State Research and Extension news service

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Grocery stores are critical to maintaining vibrant, healthy and thriving communities. Yet, rural grocers face a challenging and ever-changing retail landscape that makes it difficult to stay in business.

That is why the Rural Grocery Initiative, a unit within K-State Research and Extension, is hosting the seventh biennial National Rural Grocery Summit on June 20-21 at the Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel in Wichita. According to organizers, the summit is considered the premier networking and resource-sharing venue for independent grocers and rural food access stakeholders.

“In 2020, the summit was canceled due to COVID-19,” said Rial Carver, program leader for the Rural Grocery Initiative. “We’re incredibly excited for the return of the summit this summer because it will once again provide grocers and other rural stakeholders the opportunity to connect with each other, learn together, and strategize creative rural grocery solutions to take home to their communities."

The National Rural Grocery Summit attracts many rural stakeholders, including store owners, citizen leaders, food suppliers, academic researchers, healthy food access practitioners, policy makers, funders and more.

Carver said topics planned for discussion include rural grocery best practices, innovation in rural food access, funding sources to support grocery stores, nutrition incentive programs and more.

Jenny Osner, co-owner of Hired Man's Grocery and Grill in Conway Springs, has attended every National Rural Grocery Summit since it started in 2008.

“By attending the summit, I look most forward to the people, the stories, the connections. You find others who feel and know the highs and lows of rural grocery and how to how to run a grocery store in a rural community,” Osner said. “And the best part is it doesn't end at the summit. You build a network; you have people, you have resources. So when things come up, you can always fall back on those people that you've met at the summit.”

The National Rural Grocery Summit will feature numerous breakout sessions and keynotes addresses from leaders across the nation. Two keynote speakers have been announced so far:

  • RF Buche, CEO and president of GF Buche Co. -- GF Buche Co. was established in 1905 in Lake Andes, South Dakota. Buche, a fourth generation grocer, owns and operates grocery, convenience, fast food, hardware and auto parts stores in 23 locations and 12 communities throughout South Dakota. He will discuss how the company remains competitive in rural markets through innovation.

  • Stacy Mitchell, co-executive director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance -- The ILSR is a national research and advocacy organization that fights corporate control and works to build thriving, equitable communities. Mitchell founded and directs ILSR’s Independent Business Initiative, which has done pioneering research and reporting on the importance of locally owned businesses and the public policies driving their decline.

Registration for the National Rural Grocery Summit is currently open, and the early bird registration rate ends May 15. A limited number of travel scholarships for Kansas residents are also available. For more details on the summit, including how register, visit www.ruralgrocery.org/summit.

At a glance

Grocery stores are critical to rural communities. The National Rural Grocery Summit aims to help grocers and other rural stakeholders develop strategies to remain open.


National Rural Grocery Summit

Notable quote

“We’re incredibly excited for the 2022 Summit because it will once again provide grocers and other rural stakeholders the opportunity to connect with each other, learn from each other, and strategize about ways to sustain rural grocery operations.”

— Rial Carver, program leader, Rural Grocery Initiative


Rial Carver

Erica Blair

For more information: 

Rural Grocery Initiative


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.