Food Access

Inadequate nutrition is associated with chronic diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stress, cancer, diabetes, low birth weight, obesity, and anemia. A significant contributor to dietary quality lies in access to healthy foods at a reasonable cost. In terms of the built environment, a key question is whether people who live closer to stores and restaurants—particularly those with healthier options—eat better than those who live further away? Little research has looked directly at this issue and the research shows stronger links between access to supermarkets and healthy eating than access to fast food and its opposite.

Design for Health (DFH) Materials

Other Resources

Journals and Other Publications

  • Food Policy Councils
    This is a 2011 briefing paper from the American Planning Association outlining a new mechanism for dealing with food access.
  • Progressive Planning Magazine Special Issue on Food and Planning
    Contents and articles from this 2004 magazine issue are online. Articles feature both practitioner and faculty writers. The whole issue is available online as a pdf—just scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • The Food System: A Stranger to the Planning Field
    This Web page reproduces the classic 2000 Journal of the American Planning Association article on food and planning, co-authored by Kameshwari Pothukuchi and Jerome L. Kaufman. In it they lay out an agenda for research and planning action around food issues.

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Web Sites

  • The online USDA Food Environment Atlas has a wealth of health-related data by county.Their Atlas of Rural and Small Town America includes information on people, economics, and agriculture.
  • American Planning Association
    The APA’s policy guide on community and regional food planning presents a number of model policies and useful references. The APA has also developed a 175 page report on Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems, available free online.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
    The USDA’s 2002 Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit is a valuable assessment tool that is available online.
    The central U.S. government Web site for information on healthy eating, it is focused on nutrition information and contains very little about environments.
  • Tools from PolicyLink on Health Equity and Place focus on access to healthy food as well as active living and environmental quality.

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