Online Program

An alternative food project reflecting complex interaction between consumers and the local food environment

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Lauren Anderson, MEd, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Katherine Wright, MPH, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
INTRODUCTION: In June 2012, the Chicago Department of Public Health passed ordinances to legalize mobile produce vending throughout the city, provided at least 50% of produce carts operate in designated “underserved” areas. In response, the Neighbor Carts Program emerged to promote an opportunity for economic success and healthy food access through an unconventional retail structure. Neighbor Carts are independent produce carts selling fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. Part food access enterprise and part workforce initiative, this program employs individuals who have previously experienced homelessness, addiction, or other barriers to employment. APPROACH: Detailed analysis of pilot year data focuses on the relationship between each cart and its surrounding community by examining consumer behavior patterns, workforce development efforts, and the economic sustainability of the model. Data collection tools include cart observations, vendor interviews, shopper surveys and key informant interviews. RESULTS: This presentation will focus on shopper characteristics and behavior patterns for carts in underserved versus non-underserved areas. Mapping buyer residences in relation to transportation lines and cart locations shows unique consumer patterns for each cart. DISCUSSION: Carts in close proximity, but in different neighborhoods, expressed wholly unique consumer patterns. Carts operating in locations that were not designated underserved by city guidelines had high proportions of un/underemployed consumers and/or WIC/SNAP participants coming from all areas of Chicago, including underserved zones. Mapping hyper-localized patterns of consumer behavior at alternative food projects may be effective in better assessing a complicated, local food environment.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate an alternative food project

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of this project. Among my scientific interests has been program evaluation.
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.