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Disparities in Neighborhood Food Retail
Over the years, there has been a lot of focus on measuring the lack of healthy food in neighborhoods. The Get Healthy Philly team is excited to add to the food access conversation with the recent release of “Neighborhood Food Retail in Philadelphia.”
This new report maps neighborhood availability of “high-produce supply stores” (e.g., supermarkets, produce stores, farmers’ markets) in relation to “low-produce supply stores” (like dollar stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores).
This dual approach recognizes the central role produce plays in a healthy diet, and the fact that the broad availability of cheap, less-healthy food can impact diet as well. We know that people don’t always shop for food at the store closest to their house, and factors like price, quality, and cleanliness also impact our choices. But it’s important to measure the “food store mix” by neighborhood to understand if there are place-based disparities in food choices.
- Lower-income neighborhoods have disproportionately more low-produce stores. And neighborhoods with higher incomes have more high-produce supply stores.
- In the future, we need to think about ways we can consider quality and cost and get more data on individual stores.
- Across Philadelphia, low-produce supply stores vastly outnumber high-product supply stores (4 out of 5 stores are low-produce supply). This tips the balance towards foods high in calories, fat, sugar, or salt for everyone.
- Proximity to supermarkets is only one part of improving diet quality.