196273 Accessibility to Fruits and Vegetables and other Healthy Food Options in a Rural Area in Maine

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:30 AM

Teresa A. Hubley, MPA, PhD , Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, Augusta, ME
This study aims to fully describe accessibility to healthy food options in different towns in the selected study area. One spatial measure of “access” is the average distance to mid-size and large grocery stores from town centers. The following three criteria were used to select the study area: 1) low population density, 2) low income area, and 3) high participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). We created a state map of “total risk rate” representing all three criteria combined. Based on its relatively high risk rates and in consideration of driving time for a survey team, we selected southern Somerset County in western Maine as the study area. The study area includes 29 towns with overall population density of 43 people/sq. mile, ranging from 1 person/sq. mi. to 147 people/sq.mi. We compiled a list of food stores accepting SNAP and developed a validated instrument to measure the price and availability of food items. By Fall of 2009, we will be able to spatially describe disparity in access to healthy foods in the study area using survey data. We will specifically cite points at which availability and price may affect the ability of SNAP participants to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines. This needs assessment project is funded by USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) funds.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to: 1. Identify a study area using maps 2. Use spatial concepts to enhance discussions of access 3. Apply lessons learned from a study of food access elements to policy

Keywords: Geographic Information Systems, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have formal training in GIS applications and performed all the mapping work for this project. I have presented the initial mapping work before at ESRI's Health User Group meeting. I work closely with the project director, who has a PhD in nutrition, and her co-PI, also a nutritionist, who works with WIC recipients and others in the target area for the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.