Assessing Retail Fruit and Vegetable Availability in Urban and Rural Underserved Communities

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University at Albany School of Public Health, One University Pl, Rensselaer, NY 12144-3456, USA.
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 1.96). 11/2008; 5(4):A123.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) are important parts of a healthy, balanced diet. Consumption of F&Vs is low among residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. We investigated and compared retail F&V availability in urban and rural underserved communities in New York State.
All food retail stores and farmers' markets (N = 263) in downtown Albany and in Columbia and Greene counties in New York State were visited and surveyed. Food stores were classified as F&V stores if they stocked more than the minimum varieties of fresh F&Vs defined by this study and as fruit-for-snack stores if they had ready-to-eat fruits only. Store density per 10,000 residents was calculated as a standardized measure of F&V availability. Adjustment weights were created to incorporate store size and business hours into the analysis.
The weight-adjusted density (per 10,000 residents) of F&V stores was 4.6 in Albany's minority neighborhood (reference category), 11.4 in Albany's racially mixed neighborhood (P = .01), 7.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' rural community (P = .10), and 9.8 in Columbia and Greene counties' small-town community (P = .02). Significant differences were not found in fruit-for-snack stores, which ranged from 2.0 per 10,000 in the mixed neighborhood to 3.4 per 10,000 in the rural community.
The urban minority neighborhood had the most barriers to fresh F&Vs in retail outlets, even when compared with the rural community. The low availability of retail F&Vs in the minority neighborhood was attributed to the lack of supermarkets and not the absolute lack of food stores. Public health intervention strategies to increase retail F&V availability in urban minority neighborhoods may aid in mitigating these disparities.


Available from: Akiko Hosler, Jan 14, 2014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Farmers market programs may increase access to more healthful foods and reduce the high prevalence of obesity in low-income communities. The objective of this study was to examine outcomes of the Fresh Fund farmers market program serving low-income neighborhoods in San Diego, California. Through its Farmers Market Fresh Fund Incentive Program, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency offered monetary incentives to government nutrition assistance recipients to purchase fresh produce at 5 farmers markets. Participants enrolled at participating markets from June 1, 2010, through December 31, 2011; they completed baseline and follow-up surveys of daily consumption and weekly spending on fruits and vegetables. We examined enrollment, participation, participant health perceptions, and vendor revenue. During the study period, 7,298 eligible participants enrolled in Fresh Fund; most (82%) had previously never been to a farmers market. Among 252 participants with matched surveys at baseline and 12-month follow-up, the proportion who reported their diet to be "healthy" or "very healthy" increased from 4% to 63% (P < .001); nearly all (93%) stated that Fresh Fund was "important" or "very important" in their decision to shop at the farmers market. Vendors reported that 48% of all market revenue they received was received through the Fresh Fund program. At 2 markets, revenue from June 1, 2011, through January 31, 2012, increased by 74% and 68% compared with revenue from June 1, 2010, through January 31, 2011. Participants in the Fresh Fund program self-reported increases in daily consumption and weekly spending on fruits and vegetables, and vendors at participating farmers markets also increased their revenue.
    Preventing chronic disease 11/2013; 10:E188. DOI:10.5888/pcd10.130124 · 1.96 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To investigate a 9-year trend of fresh fruit and vegetable availability and factors associated with the net availability change in two contrasting neighbourhoods. Longitudinal design. Data were collected in 2003, 2009 and 2012 through in-store observations. Fresh fruit and vegetable availability was presented by weight-adjusted counts of stores having designated varieties per 10 000 population. A low-income minority neighbourhood and an adjacent middle-income racially mixed neighbourhood in Albany, NY, USA. These neighbourhoods became sites of fresh produce interventions after baseline data were collected. A total of 111, 128 and 146 eligible food stores in respective years. Fresh fruit availability (two or more varieties) increased in both neighbourhoods. Inventory expansion of existing stores and the convenience store intervention contributed to the significant increase (P for trend=0·04) of fresh fruit availability in the minority neighbourhood. Although not statistically significant (P>0·05), the availability of two or more dark-coloured fresh vegetables also increased in the mixed neighbourhood, but declined slightly in the minority neighbourhood. The secular (non-intervention) fresh vegetable availability rate ratio by neighbourhood reached 3·0 in 2012 (P<0·01). The net decline of fresh vegetable availability in the minority neighbourhood was primarily attributed to inventory reduction of existing stores. Longitudinal observations revealed narrowed neighbourhood disparities of fresh fruit availability and widened gaps of fresh vegetable availability. Inventory shifts of existing stores impacted the net availability change more profoundly than store opening or closing in the minority neighbourhood. Findings support increasing the programme capacity of the convenience store intervention to address the fresh vegetable disparity.
    Public Health Nutrition 03/2014; 18(03):1-10. DOI:10.1017/S1368980014000391 · 2.48 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Increasing the accessibility and affordability of fresh produce is an important strategy for municipalities combatting obesity and related health conditions. Farmers markets offer a promising venue for intervention in urban settings, and in recent years, an increasing number of programs have provided financial incentives to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. However, few studies have explored the impact of these programs on use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets. New York City's Health Bucks Program provides SNAP recipients with a $2 coupon for every $5 spent using SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets. We analyzed approximately 4 years of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) sales data, from July 2006 through November 2009, to develop a preliminary assessment of the effect of the Health Bucks Program on EBT spending at participating markets. Farmers markets that offered Health Bucks coupons to SNAP recipients averaged higher daily EBT sales than markets without the incentive ($383.07, 95% confidence interval [CI], 333.1-433.1, vs $273.97, 95% CI, 243.4-304.5, P < 0.001) following the introduction of a direct point-of-purchase incentive. Multivariate analysis indicated this difference remained after adjusting for the year the market was held and the neighborhood poverty level. When a $2 financial incentive was distributed with EBT, use of SNAP benefits increased at participating New York City farmers markets. We encourage other urban jurisdictions to consider adapting the Health Bucks Program to encourage low-income shoppers to purchase fresh produce as one potential strategy in a comprehensive approach to increasing healthful food access and affordability in low-income neighborhoods.
    Preventing chronic disease 09/2013; 10:E163. DOI:10.5888/pcd10.130113 · 1.96 Impact Factor