Convenience stores in the South West and Midlands are being encouraged to get involved with the government's Change4Life healthier eating scheme after it was rolled out across the regions last month.

The initiative, which aims to boost fruit and vegetable sales in deprived areas by supporting stores, was first trialled in the North East.

The latest phase of the rollout takes the number of Change4Life stores to more than 160, and it is hoped that number will swell in the coming weeks and months.

Some 28 "beacon" stores received funding of up to £2,500 from their symbol groups and the Department of Health (DoH) to help them improve the quality and appearance of their fresh ranges via new equipment, pos and staff training.

A further 40 selected stores have received free Change4Life pos kits in return for stocking a wider range. Stores must supply the DoH with regular sales updates and allow its staff to inspect displays.

Carol Devlin, who runs Spar Filton in Bristol, said that fruit and veg sales had bloomed from £400 a week to more than £1,000 since a significant amount of space was given over to fresh fruit and vegetables. "Fresh produce was not a priority for us before, but that's changed and I am confident we can keep building on our success," she said.

Londis retailer Johnny Singh, whose Gateshead store was among the first to adopt Change4Life in late 2008, said that fruit and vegetable sales had levelled off after an initial boost, but remained steady. "We've received no additional funding from the DoH, but Londis has been very supportive," he added.

Jonathan Smye, regional food and health leader for the DoH in the South West, said he hoped other regions would get funding, and urged retailers to register their interest in the scheme via the Association of Convenience Stores or their symbol group.