Online Program

Geographic access to emergency food among racial/ethnic minorities and foreign-born residents in the twin cities

Monday, November 4, 2013

Caitlin Eicher Caspi, Sc.D, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Marilyn S. Nanney, PhD, MPH, RD, Dept of Family Medicine & Community Health, Program in Health Disparities Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Amy Maheswaran Lopez, MSW, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis, MN
Introduction: Food shelves (a.k.a. food pantries) are an important emergency food source for food insecure households. Place-based disparities in access to many food sources have been well documented, but geographic access to food shelves among food insecure families is unknown. Methods: Census tract data for the Twin Cities area was derived from the 2010 U.S. Census and American Community Survey. Regression models estimated the average street-network distance to the closest food shelf according to racial/ethnic composition (quartiles) and key foreign-born group composition (highest quartile) for each census tract, holding constant poverty level, population density, and food shelf size. Results: The raw distance to the closest food shelf averaged 2.6 miles. Using the log-transformed distance in multivariable models, census tracts with the highest proportion of African American, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native residents had shorter distances to the nearest food shelf (0.21-1.08 miles, p <0.05 after Bonferroni correction); those with the highest proportion of white residents had longer distances (0.91 miles, p< 0.05). Census tracts with more residents born in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America also had shorter distances to the nearest food shelf (0.17-0.36 miles, p< 0.001). Discussion: Areas with more racial/ethnic minorities and key foreign-born groups appear to have shorter distances to food shelves. Given these findings, future research should 1) evaluate the ability of food shelves to offer culturally relevant foods to clientele, and 2) examine access to food shelves in rural areas, which may have more white residents, but comparable levels of food insecurity.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain the role of food shelves (a.k.a. food pantries) in the overall local food environment Describe patterns of access to food shelves among racial/ethnic minority and foreign-born groups in a metropolitan area of the U.S.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received my ScD in social epidemiology, where my dissertation using geographic information systems to examine the food environment of low-income residents in a major U.S. metropolis,
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.