Food Systems

Access to consistent, affordable nutrition is essential. Low-income and rural people in the United States may have limited access because of their distance to affordable food outlets and other factors.[1] Grocery chains often judge that they will not be profitable in low-income or low-density areas,[2] leaving low-income and rural residents to travel longer distances to shop for groceries or buy from expensive outlets, like convenience stores or fast-food restaurants.[3],[4],[5] In addition, higher food costs may leave people and households unable to afford consistent meals. Food insecurity as measured by enrollment in SNAP and geographic proximity to grocery stores were selected as indicators to understand equity in local food systems.

  1. Rhone, Alana, et al. (2019). Understanding low-income and low-access census tracts across the nation: subnational and subpopulation estimates of access to healthy food. No. 1476-2019-1856. Retrieved from
  2. Dutko, P., Ploeg, M. V., & Farrigan, T. (2012). Characteristics and Influential Factors of Food Deserts.
  3. Powell, L. M., Slater, S., Mirtcheva, D., Bao, Y., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2007). Food store availability and neighborhood characteristics in the United States. Preventive Medicine, 44(3), 189–195.
  4. Gittelsohn, J., Franceschini, M. C. T., Rasooly, I. R., Ries, A. V., Ho, L. S., & Pavlovich, W. (2008). Understanding the food environment in a low-income urban setting: Implications for food store interventions. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 2(2–3), 33–50.
  5. Richardson, A. S., Boone-Heinonen, J., Popkin, B. M., & Gordon-Larsen, P. (2012). Are neighbourhood food resources distributed inequitably by income and race in the USA? Epidemiological findings across the urban spectrum. BMJ Open, 2(2).
Updated February 7, 2024