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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Abbreviations

ERS:

Economic Research Service

MBP:

Market Basket Price

TFP:

Thrifty Food Plan

USDA:

United States Department of Agriculture

NAICS:

North American Industry Classification Systems

References

  1. Alaimo K., Olson C. M., Frongillo E. A. (2001). Low family income and food insufficiency in relation to overweight in US children: Is there a paradox? Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 155(10):11–27

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson J. W., Hanna T. J. (1999). Impact of nondigestible carbohydrates on serum lipoproteins and risk for cardiovascular disease. Journal of Nutrition 129:1457S–1466S

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ary D., Jacobs L. C., Razavieh A. (2002). Introduction to Research Education 6th edition. Wadsworth, Belmont, California

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bazzano L. A., He J., Ogden L. G., Loria C. M., Vupputuri S., Myers L., Whelton P. K. (2002). Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in US adults: The first National Health and Examination survey epidemiological follow-up study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76(1):93–99

    Google Scholar 

  5. Chung C., Myers S. L. Jr. (1999). Do the poor pay more for food? An analysis of grocery store availability and food price disparities. Journal of Consumer Affairs 33(12):276

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cummins S., Macintyre M. (2002). ‘Food deserts’ evidence and assumption in health policy making. British Medical Journal 325:436–438

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Duff, K. (2001). “Diet and cancer: Nature’s cancer fighting foods.” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients August: 146

  8. Edward H. G., Evers S. (2001). Benefits and barriers associated with participation in food programs in three low-income Ontario communities. Canadian Journal of Dietary Practice and Research 62(2):76–81

    Google Scholar 

  9. Eikenberry N., Smith C. (2004). Healthful eating: Perceptions, motivations, barriers, and promoters in low-income Minnesota communities. Journal of American Dietetic Association 104(7):1158–1161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Eikenberry N., Smith C. (2005). Attitudes, beliefs and prevalence of dumpster diving as a means to obtain food by Midwestern, low-income, urban dwellers. Agriculture and Human Values 22(2):187–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fischer B. D., Strogatz S. (1999). Community measures of low-fat milk consumption: Comparing store shelves with households. American Journal of Public Health 89(2):235–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Friedrich M. J. (2000). Poor children subject to ‘environmental injustice. Medical News and Perspectives 283(23):3057–3058

    Google Scholar 

  13. Glasgow N. (2000). Older Americans patterns of driving and using other transportation. Rural America 15(3):26–31

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hu F. B., Willet W. C. (2002). Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease. Journal of the American Medical Association 288(20):2569–2578

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Jones E. (1997). An analysis of consumer food shopping behavior using supermarket scanner data: Differences by income and location. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 79(5):1437–1444

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Jones E., Mustiful B. W. (1996). Purchasing behavior of higher and lower-income shoppers: A look at breakfast cereals. Applied Economics 28(1):131–138

    Google Scholar 

  17. Joshipura K., Hu F., Manson J., Stampfer M., Rimm E., Speizer F., Colditz G., Ascherio A., Rosner B., Spiegelman D., Willet W. (2001). The effect of fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of heart disease. Annals of Internal Medicine 134(12):1106–1114

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kant A. K., Block G., Scharzkin A., Ziegler R., Nestle M. (1991). Dietary diversity in the US population, NHANES II, 1976–1980. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 91:1526–1537

    Google Scholar 

  19. Kaufman P. R. (1998). Rural poor have less access to supermarkets, grocery stores. Rural Development Perspectives 13(3):19–26

    Google Scholar 

  20. Koh E. T., Caples V. (1979). Frequency of selection of food groups by low-income families in southwestern Mississippi. Journal of the American Dietetics Association 74(6):660–664

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kratt P., Reynolds K., Shewchuk R. (2000). The role of availability as a moderator of family fruit and vegetable consumption. Health Education Behavior 27(4):471–482

    Google Scholar 

  22. Lang, T. and G. Rayner (2002). “Why health is the key to the future of food and farming.” UK Public Health Association. Accessed on March 29, 2002 at http:/www.ukpha.org.uk

  23. Lin B. H., Morrison R. M. (2002). Higher fruit consumption linked with lower body mass index. Food Review 25(3):28–32

    Google Scholar 

  24. Lindstrom M., Hanson B. S., Wirfalt E., Ostergren P. O. (2001). Socioeconomic differences in the consumption of vegetables, fruit, and fruit juices: The influence of psychosocial factors. European Journal of Public Health 11(1):51–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Lino M. (2001). The thrifty food plan, 1999: Revisions of the market baskets. Family Economics and Nutrition Review 13(1):50–64

    Google Scholar 

  26. Marlett J. A., McBurney M. I., Slavin J. L. (2002). Position of the American Dietetic Association Health implications of dietary fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102(7):993–1000

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. McCarthy B., Hogan J. (1992). Mean streets: The theoretical significance of situational delinquency among homeless youths. The American Journal of Sociology 98(3):597–564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. McDowell D. R., Allen-Smith J. E., Mclean-Meyinsse P. E. (1997). Food expenditures and socioeconomic characteristics: Focus on income class (Income inequality: Implications for food consumption behavior). American Journal of Agricultural Economics 79(5):1444–1452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Morgan L. L., Kruger R. A. (1998). The Focus Group Kit. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California

    Google Scholar 

  30. Morland K., Wing S., Diez Rioux A., Poole C. (2002). Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places. American Journal of Preventative Medicine 22(1):23–29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Morris M. P., Neuhauser L., Cambell C. (1992). Food security in rural America: A study of the availability and costs of food. Journal of Nutrition Education 24(1):52S–25S

    Google Scholar 

  32. Ness A., Powles J. (1997). Fruit and vegetables, and cardiovascular disease: A review. International Journal of Epidemiology 26:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. NVIVO-QSR version 1.2. (2000). Australia: QSR International, Inc

  34. Olson C. M. (1999). Nutrition and healthy outcomes associated with food insecurity and hunger. Journal of Nutrition 129:521–524

    Google Scholar 

  35. Perez, A. and S. Pollack (2003). “Fruit and tree nuts outlook.” USDA Electronic report from the economic research service, FTS-302. Accessed on May 19, 2003 at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FruitAndTreeNuts/

  36. Putnam R. D. (1993). Making Democracy Work. University Press, Princeton, New Jersey

    Google Scholar 

  37. Resnicow K., Wang R., Dudley W., Jackson A., Ahluwalia J., Baranowski T., Braithwaite R. (2001). Risk factor distribution among socioeconomically diverse African American adults. Journal of Urban Health 78(1):125–140

    Google Scholar 

  38. Rose D., Richards R. (2004). Food store access and household fruit and vegetable use among participants in the US Food Stamp Program. Public Health Nutrition 7(8):1081–1088

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Ross C. E. (2000). Walking, exercising, and smoking: Does neighborhood matter? Social Science and Medicine 51(2):265–274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Sadovsky R. (2002). Eating fruit and vegetables affects coronary heart disease risk. American Family Physician 65(2):285

    Google Scholar 

  41. Shankar S., Klassen A. (2001). Influences of fruit and vegetable procurement and consumption among urban African-American public housing residents, and potential strategies for intervention. Family Economics and Nutrition Review 13(2):34–46

    Google Scholar 

  42. Townsend M. S., Peerson J., Love B., Achterberg C., Murphy S. P. (2001). Food insecurity is positively related to overweight in women. Journal of Nutrition 131:1738–1745

    Google Scholar 

  43. US Census Bureau (2002). “Small area income and poverty estimates.” Accessed on May 20, 2002 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/saipe/saipe.html

  44. USDHHS (US Department of Health, Human Services) (2003). Healthy People 2010. Accessed on May 19, 2003 at http://web.health.gov/healthypeople

  45. Van Duyn M. A., Pivonka E. (2000). Overview of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption for the dietetics professional selected literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 100:1511–1521

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Veenema T. G. (2001). Children’s exposure to community violence [Review]. Journal of Nursing Scholarship 33(2):167–173

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chery Smith.

Additional information

Deja Hendrickson is currently a graduate student at the University of California and working towards obtaining her MS in nutrition in order to become a registered dietitian.

Chery Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, is an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota with research interests in the dietary behavior of low-income and homeless people, community and international nutrition, and food systems.

Nicole Eikenberry is a Registered Dietitian and recently completed her MS in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, with primary research emphasis on food access and food choice for low-income Minnesotan adults.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hendrickson, D., Smith, C. & Eikenberry, N. Fruit and vegetable access in four low-income food deserts communities in Minnesota. Agric Hum Values 23, 371–383 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-006-9002-8

Download citation

Keywords

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