African Journal of Agriculture and Food Security

African Journal of Agriculture and Food Security ISSN 2375-1177 Vol. 5 (4), pp. 193-201, April, 2017. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Food insecurity and the food store environment in the Southern United States: A Case Study of Alabama counties

1Berneece Herbert, 2Colmore S. Christian, 3Chukudi V. Izeogu and 3Olayemi Babalola

1Interim Chair and Program Coordinator, Department of Community & Regional Planning J.I. Dawson Building Rm 308 Alabama A&M University Normal AL 35762 USA.

2Alabama A&M University, Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, Normal Alabama 35762 USA.

3Alabama A&M University, Department of Community & Regional Planning, Normal Alabama 35762 USA.

Corresponding author. Email: berneece.herbert@aamu.edu. Tel: 256-372-4988 or 256-653-4751; Fax: 256-372-5906

Accepted April 27, 2017

Abstract

Access to nutritious and healthy food, a key pillar of food security, has become a national and global challenge particularly for individuals and families living in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Although no real consensus exists about the definition of food access, researchers have agreed that the components include nutritionally adequate, culturally appropriate and affordable food. Access involves households possessing sufficient income to purchase healthy food and includes proximity and the ability to travel to sources that offers such food. The lack of access contributes not only to poor health outcomes but to social inequity. Studies that measure food insecurity find major disparities in the food store environment by race and income and other socio-economic measures. This research assesses food store density as an indicator of the health of the food environment and its relations to food insecurity. It concluded that food insecurity rates were highest in rural, high minority counties located primarily in Alabama Black Belt. The results question the role of supermarkets as a solution to food security and conclude that the location of supermarkets and large grocery stores may not be the most effective solution to the “grocery gap” in low-income communities.

Key words: Food security, food access, food store density, food environment, grocery gap.