Understanding Access to Healthy Foods and Grocery Shopping Patterns Among Community Residents in Underserved Neighborhoods in Tampa, Florida

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Objectives:It is widely accepted that low-income and racial/ethnic minority neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by diet-related adverse health outcomes. Access to healthy foods has also been shown to be a determinant of more optimal dietary intake and health. This study aimed to conduct a survey to examine grocery shopping patterns and food access among community residents in underserved neighborhoods; the study was conducted in partnership with community organizations. Methods: A survey was administered cross-sectionally. Twenty-seven questions adapted from previous research regarding grocery shopping patterns and food access were included. Community residents aged ≥18 years in East Tampa, a designated Florida Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), were recruited at community events/meetings, and an online version of the survey was distributed through the email listserv of community partners. A total of 126 residents participated; the majority was African American, female, and ≥35 years of age. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis. GIS mapping was subsequently used to examine the residents’ accessibility to grocery stores within the neighborhoods. Results: The majority (58%) of the participants reported that they usually buy most of their groceries at supermarkets, followed by large chain stores (41%), farmers markets (11%), and discount stores (10%). There were 4 major stores in the neighborhoods identified as preferred grocery stores. Most participants indicated that they use cash (52%) or EBT card (30%) for grocery shopping, and 33% regularly get food from food pantries. Most residents use their own cars (76%) for transportation and indicated that it takes ≤30 minutes (87%) to get their groceries. Ninety participants (71%) indicated that a new supermarket nearby would help them get food easier, followed by a new farmers market. In an open-ended question, some reported that mobile food trucks or delivery services would make it easier to get the foods. A specific location for a new supermarket was identified by each participant. Conclusions: Community residents demanded a new supermarket or farmers market with better variety of fresh produce. The results of this study have been discussed with the community partners and the CRA advisory committee.

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Current Developments in Nutrition, v. 4, issue Supplement_2, p. 194