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Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 89, Issue 5, pp 733–745 | Cite as

Developing a Mobile Produce Distribution System for Low-Income Urban Residents in Food Deserts

  • Michael J. Widener
  • Sara S. Metcalf
  • Yaneer Bar-Yam
Article

Abstract

Low-income households in the contemporary city often lack adequate access to healthy foods, like fresh produce, due to a variety of social and spatial barriers that result in neighborhoods being underserved by full-service supermarkets. Because of this, residents commonly resort to purchasing food at fast food restaurants or convenience stores with poor selections of produce. Research has shown that maintaining a healthy diet contributes to disease prevention and overall quality of life. This research seeks to increase low-income residents’ access to healthy foods by addressing spatial constraints through the characterization of a mobile market distribution system model that serves in-need neighborhoods. The model optimally locates mobile markets based on the geographic distribution of these residents. Using data from the medium-sized city of Buffalo, New York, results show that, with relatively few resources, the model increases these residents’ access to healthy foods, helping to create a healthier city.

Keywords

Access to healthy food Food deserts Spatial optimization model Mobile market Buffalo, NY 

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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Widener
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sara S. Metcalf
    • 1
  • Yaneer Bar-Yam
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.New England Complex Systems InstituteCambridgeUSA

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