Online Program

Do the poor pay more? a comparison of healthy food prices at supermarkets and farmers markets in low-income and affluent neighborhoods in New York city

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stephanie Rogus, RD, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, New York, NY
Introduction: Access to healthy food is a problem for many low-income communities that are more likely to suffer from undernourishment and experience higher rates of diet-related diseases than more affluent communities. To address this disparity, non-profit and government organizations have financially and technically supported farmers markets in urban communities with limited supermarket access. The benefit of farmers markets to communities is well documented, but there remains a widespread perception that farmers markets are significantly more expensive than conventional supermarkets. This view is anecdotal, as only four studies have examined the price differences between farmers markets and conventional retail markets. This study investigates price differences between farmers markets and supermarkets in low-income and affluent neighborhoods.

Methods: This study analyzed weekly food prices of 26 foods, collected from two farmers markets and four supermarkets in affluent and low-income communities in New York City over one year.

Results: This study compares prices of individual foods at farmers markets and supermarkets in low-income and affluent neighborhoods in NYC as well as a market basket of foods based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the Thrifty Food Plan recipes at supermarkets in affluent and low-income neighborhoods. Preliminary findings suggest that farmers market prices are higher. Deeper analysis controls for seasonality, neighborhood and spatial characteristics, in order to ascertain which factors are statistically associated with price and variety variability.

Discussion: This research will add to the growing body of public health literature concerning healthy food access and low-income populations and provide policy and future research recommendations.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify disparities in food price between low-income and affluent communities in New York City. Compare the cost of an inexpensive, healthy diet (according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and Thrifty Food Plan recipes) between communities with different socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a site manager on a research project evaluating monetary incentives for WIC recipients at farmers markets. Among my research interests has been the development of methods to evaluate food access by considering the local food environment, specifically affordability.
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.