Journal of Public Affairs

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  • Growing disparities in an urban food desert: Downtown Albany longitudinal food environment studies

    This paper presents findings from our longitudinal study of food environments in two exemplary, contrasting urban neighborhoods in Downtown Albany, New York. The “minority neighborhood” (74% racial/ethnic minority population) is a “food desert” by the United States Department of Agriculture's definition, whereas the adjacent “mixed neighborhood” (33% minority population) is not. The long‐term trend analysis (1970–2018) of the macro‐level food environment found that although the minority neighborhood lost all supermarkets and remains supermarket‐less since the late 1990s, the mixed neighborhood was able to retain several supermarkets and since 2008, it gained a new supermarket every 3–5 years. The medium‐term trend analysis (2003–2015) of the micro‐level food environment revealed a more complex picture of changing food environments. The total number of food stores in the minority neighborhood increased in much greater rates than the mixed neighborhood in the 12‐year period, and accordingly, the standardized availability measures for “any” fresh fruits and fresh vegetables increased significantly in the minority neighborhood. The standardized availability measure for adequate (five or more) varieties of nutritionally desirable fresh fruits and vegetables, however, did not increase in the minority neighborhood. Because the mixed neighborhood saw steady increases in such measures, disparities between the two neighborhoods grew incrementally and reached the highest point (rate ratio of over 5.0) in 2015. In this paper, there are also sections to provide historical and contextual background of our food environment research, as well as discussion on intervention ideas to address the disparities in fresh produce availability focusing on ethnic markets.

  • Availability of affordable healthy food in Hillsborough County, Florida

    Prior research has indicated that low‐income neighborhoods in urban regions throughout the United States have limited access to healthy food, which partly explains the prevalence of diet‐related diseases. Our study provides new evidence on the relationship between access, prices of healthy food, and key demographic factors in Hillsborough County, Florida. The research team completed 65 surveys of grocery and convenience stores regarding availability and prices of 11 food items included in the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in Stores (NEMS‐S). Results from the regression analysis indicate that affordable healthy food is more likely to be found in grocery stores than in convenience stores. There is no significant evidence, however, that low‐income neighborhoods have less access to healthy food than the not‐low‐income ones. We also observe significant price differences among types of stores but not in grocery‐to‐convenience store ratios among income groups, suggesting that low‐income families are not exposed to higher food prices.

  • Good Food, Strong Communities: Promoting Social Justice through Local and Regional Food Systems. University of Iowa Press; 1 Edition. 2017. 416 pages. ISBN‐10: 1609385438
  • Health disparities: Using policies to rethink our strategies for eliminating the impact of food deserts by focusing on unhealthy dietary patterns

    For years, we have been interested in understanding the relationship between dietary patterns and diseases, and most recently, we have put efforts toward analyzing the impact of food deserts as they relate to dietary patterns. Unhealthy eating has become an epidemic in low‐income neighborhoods that are considered to be food deserts due to the fact that people are not meeting their recommended daily intake of nutritionally dense foods. Adults should be consuming at least 20 to 35 g of fiber daily, however, many Americans only consume 12 to 17 g of fiber daily at best. Furthermore, as a society, we Americans consume way too much added sugar, saturated fat, and salt. Although there are a number of reasons that unhealthy dietary patterns exist in our society especially in low‐income communities, it is important that we pay particular attention to how food deserts have developed and how they are major contributors to the overall poor health of low‐income Americans. Therefore, the purpose of this is paper is to encourage its audience to rethink how we can implement policies to address the issue of unhealthy dietary patterns by reducing or eliminating food deserts. Specifically, we explore the effect of implementing evidence‐based policies such as nutrition initiatives, corner store initiatives, menu labeling, food assistance programs, and the punitive taxation of sugary beverages and unhealthy foods similar to the punitive taxes placed on tobacco.

  • International measurement of food security: Enhancing alignment between evidence and assistance programs

    A definition of food security used in developing countries by United Nations Agencies, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international development agencies establish four dimensions of food security: access, availability, utilization, and stability. This definition provides a framework for a multidimensional, rigorous measure of food security across developing countries and enables an analysis of the magnitude and severity of food insecurity across time and space. This framework also permits an analysis of the drivers of food insecurity that foster appropriate, cost‐effective food assistance programs. In the developed world, food security is often defined more narrowly, resulting in a less rigorous measurement of food security. Food security experts in developed countries can exploit the framework applied in the developing world to improve the measurement of food insecurity, as well as evidence‐based food assistance programs that are informed by its measurement.

  • Emerging, and old, dilemmas for food security in Latin America

    The present text offers a summary of some of the crucial food security problems in Latin American (LA) countries. This region, like many others in the globe, confronts such as food safety difficulties. The summary offers also an analysis of some technologically based solutions for LA food security issues. As a general call, the present review article calls for a collaborative and transdisciplinary approach to think deeper about how to solve food security problems, putting the focus on enabling technologies within a context of social, market, and global trends to achieve food and nutritional security. The review is positioned far from techno‐optimisms and, at the same time, away from purely economic‐based solutions. Conversely, this review embraces the whole complexity that brings economy‐nature‐technology triad. Embracing such complex relationships between technology, nature and the socio‐economy aspects of food security LA issues. Such complexity also triggers a need for a solution that considers a renewed approach to sustainability in the whole food value chain from production to consumption. Sustainability in the value chain opens up a much‐needed approach to LA food security that broadens, and refresh, our understanding of this fundamental socio‐economic and technical phenomena.

  • Increasing knowledge of food deserts in Brazil: The contributions of an interactive and digital mosaic produced in the context of an integrated education for sustainability program

    As efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition evolve within the context of United Nations' Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals; such problems remain far from being solved due, in part, to their complex nature. Brazil exemplifies such multifaceted scenario as the country has left the “hunger map” in 2014 but now faces another issue: The quality of the food available to its population. Physical, social, economic, cultural, and political factors have impacted the Brazilian food environment, shaping new eating habits such as the replacement of traditional local food for processed foods. Within this context, educational institutions may play an important role in spreading knowledge about major social challenges such as this and their interdependent causes. This paper presents the case study of a project conducted by business and public administration students in a discipline called Integrated Education for Sustainability (FIS), offered to undergraduate students at one of Brazil's most important management schools. In 2017, the project worked on the topic of Food Deserts, challenging the students to develop a digital and interactive mosaic that uncovers the situation of the food deserts in São Paulo. Data were collected from participant observation, field trips, events, and interviews conducted in class with 18 professionals working on several areas related to the topic. The article provides insights into (a) the importance of education to tackle the sustainability challenges, (b) lessons learned from the 14th edition of FIS course, and (c) the several barriers to food access in the city of São Paulo.

  • “If you Build it with them, they will come”: What makes a supermarket intervention successful in a food desert?

    Using 71 planned supermarket interventions in food deserts, this study assesses the interplay between regional geography, management models, policy drivers, financing, and timing. We find that community engagement and cooperative management models are important factors to opening and sustaining a new store, contributing to subsequent improvements in the foodscape, built environment, and diet‐related health. Findings show that none of the nonprofit or community‐driven stores have closed whereas nearly half of the commercial‐driven and one third of government‐driven cases resulted in canceled plans or closed stores. Our research suggests community engagement is a critical component of effective policies for healthy food access. Future studies may wish to include measurements of community engagement with their case studies to better situate explanatory findings.

  • Fishing, food, and harbor community development in Massachusetts

    Fishing communities are highly dependent on fishing and maritime economies. Regulations and techniques attempt to control quotas, types of fish caught, and the gear utilized in the industry. Furthermore, societal preferences and markets dictate the value of the fish transacted. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship and recent changes between fishing and community development in two fishing communities in Massachusetts: Gloucester and New Bedford. Moreover, I also discuss the role that fish food plays in cities and their foodways. The research asks how these communities have adapted to changes in fishing stocks, techniques, socioeconomic trends and regulations during the last two decades. A resilience public affairs approach centered on seven governance dimensions of fisheries is utilized to analyze the case studies. It is argued that specializing in niche markets, developing adequate industry facilities, and nurturing the cultural aspects endemic to each fishing community has positively influenced the communities' capacity to withstand major societal transformations. The harbor plans for Gloucester and New Bedford provide some plausible directions toward future improvements in the fishing sector.

  • An interview with social entrepreneur Doug Rauch on his solution to food insecurity

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