Food deserts in the Willamette : a study of food access in Lane County, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/m900nz99z

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  • According to USDA research, Oregon in 2002 had the highest rate of hunger and one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the United States. Although the margin of error involved with these statistics indicates that the state may not actually be at the top of the list, a state with only moderate poverty is not expected to be first in hunger. A possible explanation for this high incidence of food insecurity and hunger is the geographic disadvantage of low-income Oregonians. My research, performed in cooperation with a local food security coalition (the Lane County Food Coalition), focused on a cross-section from urban areas to small towns. Specifically, this study evaluated access to food in order to determine if geographic disadvantage exists in Eugene-Springfield and its surrounding communities. The analysis uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify the location of large retail food stores in relation to residential areas in order to compare 1) food prices and availability, and 2) socioeconomic variables across the study area. Several results emerged from this study. Rural residents had few low-priced food choices compared to urban residents in the study area, and higher food prices were not concentrated in low-income urban areas. Low-income urban residents did experience poor access to stores in some areas, but the presence of bus routes improved this access. While these results do not categorically demonstrate that geographic disadvantage leads to food insecurity and hunger, they suggest that further research to clarify how residents travel to buy their food and select stores they visit will prove significant.
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