248183 LiveWell Greenville: Barriers and Strategies to Promoting Healthy Food Access Among Low Income Residents

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reece Lyerly, BA , Health Sciences Department, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Silas Pearman III, DrPH , Health Sciences Department, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Introduction: This study examines the existence of food deserts in low-income and minority communities in Greenville, SC in order to develop a community-based program to promote healthy lifestyle choices among residents. This study is part of a larger community coalition known as LiveWell Greenville which seeks to “make the healthy choice the easy choice.” Methods: Using a 1.5 mile buffer zone around the Berea community, chosen for its ethnic diversity and high poverty levels, all food establishments were evaluated using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS). The NEMS tool can be applied in grocery stores, convenience stores and food retail establishments to quantify and describe food availability, pricing of food items, and food quality. In addition, the restaurant survey evaluates the posting of nutritional information, layout of the menu and pricing strategies that promote overeating such as combo meals and lunch buffets. Results: The preliminary findings suggest that food deserts are indeed a problem in the Berea community of Greenville, SC and that healthy food access may be a barrier in promoting healthy lifestyle behavior changes. Discussion: As a stakeholder in the creation of the Berea Master Plan, these results can be used to suggest appropriate intervention strategies such as community gardens and after school environmental education programs. Our presentation will also include comparison data from other communities within Greenville County from other census tracts with varying income levels and ethnic demographics in order to evaluate if the concerns of healthy food access are indeed an environmental justice issue.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to understand and describe the concept of “food deserts” as it applies to low SES communities and in particular, understand the application of this concept to a racially diverse, low SES community in an semi-urban population of a medium-sized city in Greenville, SC. 2. Participants will receive instruction about the use of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) and understand applications of this instrument to the analysis of food availability for both restaurants and food stores. 3. Participants will be able to identify how data from this study demonstrates that lack of healthy food access is a barrier to promoting healthy lifestyle behavior changes and how this community-based concept is related to the EPA’s statement on environmental justice for all persons (www.epa.gov/compliance/basics/ej.html)

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a professor of Health Sciences at Furman University for 21 years. Much of my professional research activities have been community based assessment and intervention projects for lifestyle behaviors including physical activity, nutrition, and drug abuse. This project is the result of collaboration with colleagues and students at Furman as well as coalitions within the Greenville community.
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.