Does Opening a Supermarket in a Food Desert Change the Food Environment?

Published in: Health & Place Volume 46 (July 2017), pages 249-256. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.06.002

Posted on RAND.org on August 04, 2017

by Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Gerald P. Hunter, Rebecca L. Collins, Shannon N. Zenk, Steven Cummins, Robin L. Beckman, Alvin Kristian Nugroho, Jennifer Sloan, La'Vette Wagner, Tamara Dubowitz

Read More

Access further information on this document at Health & Place Volume 46 (July 2017)

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Improving access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods is a national priority. Our study evaluated the impact of opening a supermarket in a 'food desert' on healthy food access, availability and prices in the local food environment. We conducted 30 comprehensive in-store audits collecting information on healthy and unhealthy food availability, food prices and store environment, as well as 746 household surveys in two low-income neighborhoods before and after one of the two neighborhoods received a new supermarket. We found positive and negative changes in food availability, and an even greater influence on food prices in neighborhood stores. The supermarket opening in a 'food desert' caused little improvement in net availability of healthy foods, challenging the underpinnings of policies such as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.