Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 371–383 | Cite as

Fruit and vegetable access in four low-income food deserts communities in Minnesota

  • Deja Hendrickson
  • Chery SmithEmail author
  • Nicole Eikenberry


Access to fruits and vegetables by low-income residents living in selected urban and rural Minnesotan communities was investigated. Communities were selected based on higher than state average poverty rates, limited access to grocery stores, and urban influence codes (USDA ERS codes). Four communities, two urban and two rural, were selected. Data were gathered from focus group discussions (n = 41), responses to a consumer survey (n = 396 in urban neighborhoods and n = 400 in rural communities), and an inventory of foodstuffs available at stores located in all the communities and at large grocery stores in neighborhoods adjacent to the urban communities. In the two urban neighborhoods, a significant number of foods (26% and 52%) were significantly more expensive than the Thrifty Food Plan’s (TFP) market basket price (MBP). Additionally, a significant number of foods in the two rural communities were more expensive (11% and 26%). In focus groups, participants identified major barriers to shopping in their community to be cost, quality of food, and food choice limitations. Results of the food inventory show that foods within the communities were costly, of fair or poor quality, and limited in number and type available, supporting complaints verbalized by focus group participants. Through focus groups and surveys, participants expressed concern that healthy food choices were not affordable within their communities and believed that people in their community suffered from food insecurity. The absence of quality, affordable food for low-income residents in these four Minnesota communities prevents or diminishes their ability to choose foods that help maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Food deserts Fruits and vegetables Low-income consumers Minnesota Rural communities Urban communities 



Economic Research Service


Market Basket Price


Thrifty Food Plan


United States Department of Agriculture


North American Industry Classification Systems


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The authors wish to thank the people living in the selected neighborhoods and communities for their participation in this project. We also want to thank the grocery store owners and their staff for their friendly cooperation during the store surveys. This research was funded in part by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the Theodora and Arnold Johnson Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Food Stamp Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deja Hendrickson
    • 1
  • Chery Smith
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nicole Eikenberry
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Public Health, University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Food Science and NutritionUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Independent ScholarPhoenixUSA

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