Healthy food access in low-income high-minority communities: A longitudinal assessment—2009–2017

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Robin S. Deweese, Francesco Acciai, Derek Delia, David Tulloch, Daoqin Tong, Cori Lorts, Michael Yedidia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Disparities in healthy food access are well documented in cross-sectional studies in communities across the United States. However, longitudinal studies examining changes in food environments within various neighborhood contexts are scarce. In a sample of 142 census tracts in four low-income, high-minority cities in New Jersey, United States, we examined the availability of different types of food stores by census tract characteristics over time (2009–2017). Outlets were classified as supermarkets, small grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies using multiple sources of data and a rigorous protocol. Census tracts were categorized by median household income and race/ethnicity of the population each year. Significant declines were observed in convenience store prevalence in lower-and medium-income and majority black tracts (p for trend: 0.004, 0.031, and 0.006 respectively), while a slight increase was observed in the prevalence of supermarkets in medium-income tracts (p for trend: 0.059). The decline in prevalence of convenience stores in lower-income and minority neighborhoods is likely attributable to declining incomes in these already poor communities. Compared to non-Hispanic neighborhoods, Hispanic communities had a higher prevalence of small groceries and convenience stores. This higher prevalence of smaller stores, coupled with shopping practices of Hispanic consumers, suggests that efforts to upgrade smaller stores in Hispanic communities may be more sustainable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2354
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Convenience store
  • Food access
  • Food environment
  • Grocery store
  • Low-income communities
  • Supermarket

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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