McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Kerresa Robinson

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Major and Classification

Policy, Planning, and Development

Faculty Mentor

    Lavonna Lewis, Ph.D.

Department

    Sol Price School of Public Policy

McNair Project

Urban Growth and the Effect on Changing Food Environments: A Case Study of South and Central Los Angeles Farmer's Markets

Abstract
This study examines access to local farmer's markets and the variability of food products offered in relation to population density throughout the urban environments of Central Los Angeles and South Los Angeles to compare the availability of nutrient-rich foods in densely populated, urban areas. Data for this study was provided by the United States Census Bureau and was used to assess population density and community demographics. The study assessed the location of famer's markets throughout the target area, as well as the quality and variety of food products being offered. Food delivery services were also assessed as an alternative in accessing farmer's market products. Findings suggest population density did not have a significant causal effect on the availability of nutrient-rich foods between Central and South Los Angeles farmer's markets, however, communities of high African American and Latino populations were about three times less likely to have access to a local farmer's market. Farmer's markets in communities with a dense African American and Latino population were offered a limited variety of produce, whereas those in predominately white or racially diverse communities offered meats and dairy products, in addition to a wider variety of produce. The study also found that South Los Angeles was less likely to be serviced by the deliverers of farmer's market products. Urban environments are limited in their ability to produce and provide access to agricultural goods high in nutritional value. In addition to prior research showing a prevalence of food insecurity, communities of color have limited access to farmer's markets. This disadvantage continues to put them at a greater risk for disease due to poor eating behaviors. Such findings demonstrate the need for further interdisciplinary research in order to mitigate social injustices such as food insecurity, which disproportionately affects communities of low economic status and communities of color.