Food access and food environment in the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area

Olayemi Oniyinde, Tennessee State University

Abstract

This study examines food access and environment in the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area that is the largest food desert cluster in Tennessee and includes five core and twelve outlying counties. This study utilizes an integrated micro-level dataset to study food access and related demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, examine the availability and distributions of food retailers and chain restaurants, and compare food access and environment among different income and access areas. ^ Limited access to healthy food is an urban problem shared by residents in both low-income and other-income neighborhoods. Half of the population in low-access areas lives more than one mile from a supermarket, compared with 4.4% of the population in sufficient-access areas. About 22% of the population in food deserts has low income and low access, versus 2-10% of the population having low income and low access in other areas. Half of the children and seniors have limited access in low-access areas, whereas 5% of children and seniors have limited access in sufficient-access areas. About 4.3% of house units do not have access to a vehicle in food deserts, compared with less than 1% of house units in other areas. ^ The study found no statistically significant difference in the numbers of supermarkets, super centers, and farmers markets between low-income and other-income areas. Low-income areas have significantly more small grocery stores and more food retailers with less healthy food such as various convenience stores and discount merchandisers than other-income areas. Among low-income areas, low-access neighborhoods have significantly more retailers with unhealthy food than sufficient-access areas, but about the same number of healthy food retailers as sufficient-access areas. In contrast, among other-income areas, sufficient-access neighborhoods have more healthy food retailers, and about the same number of unhealthy food retailers as low-access areas. There is no significant difference in the numbers of fast-food chain restaurants among different neighborhoods. Findings suggest that solutions may be focused on helping households with low income, children, seniors, or no vehicle, and may be tailored to urban environment. Empirical evidence and insights from this study may help develop effective policies and programs that improve healthy food access.^

Subject Area

Food science|Nutrition|Social structure|Demography

Recommended Citation

Olayemi Oniyinde, "Food access and food environment in the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area" (2015). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10003144.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI10003144

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