Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Stacey Bradshaw - Virginia State University
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a food desert is ‘an area in the United States with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of predominately lower-income neighborhoods and communities’ (110th Congress 2008). Specifically, a food desert is defined as an area where populations live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store if in an urban area or more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store if in a rural area (Ver Ploeg et al. 2012). There have been eight primary localities identified within Virginia with a total of 17.8 percent of the population shown as living in a food desert. Lynchburg was recognized as one of the eight localities. According to Virginia Food Desert Task Force’s review, different factors contribute to communities being labeled as food deserts, one being the lack of transportation among the low income population to the grocery stores and superstores. Transportation to the stores with fresh, affordable produce is important, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the individual or family. The hypothesis of this study is that minority groups living in Lynchburg do not get healthy food due to limited access to grocery stores and superstores as well as local farmers markets and community gardens. One way to address this issue is for the local community development leader’s activities to focus on partnering local convenience stores with farmers and community gardens to sell fresh produce instead of only offering highly processed food options. Therefore, I made a search of the Lynchburg area to assist in understanding the food insecurity problem affecting the local residents. I used Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) to collect data on the locations of the grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets and community gardens in Lynchburg City. The GPS waypoints were mapped with ArcMAP to demonstrate the location of grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores, community gardens and farmers markets within the Lynchburg and Emporia areas. Emporia was selected as a comparison city as it has more rural and minority demographics and has about one-fourth the population of Lynchburg. This presentation will show the results of mapping the locations in Lynchburg and Emporia, which will enable the communities to access stores and/or individuals who sell fresh produce versus other stores with only pre-packaged food options within the food deserts of Lynchburg and Emporia.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The author acknowledges NIFA Capacity Building Grant on Urban Forestry (2012-38821-20153) and Marcus Comer (Project Director) for funding the research activities. She also acknowledges Shobha Sriharan for assisting in research coordination activities. The guidance provided in research and serving as faculty advisor by Darlette Meekins is highly acknowledged.
Faculty Advisor: Darlette Meekins, agr280GIS@gmail.com
Role: I traveled to Lynchburg and Emporia to collect location data of grocery stores, superstores, convenience stores, farmers markets, community gardens as well as public transportation routes using GPS unit. Once waypoints were collected, I used ArcMAP to map the locations for identifying the food deserts in relationship to the farmers markets and community gardens. My presentation will show the results of data collected in Lynchburg and Emporia which will enable the communities to access stores and/or individuals who sell fresh produce versus other stores with only pre-packaged food options.