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Do Stores Located in Underserved Communities Offer Less Healthy Items?

New AAEA member research released in AEPP

In cities like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia that are characterized as having a higher than average density of low access communities, households living in poor access census tracts could face an average of 200 fewer nationally-branded fruit and vegetable items. With fewer options, it appears that families may not have an equal opportunity to purchase healthy options.

In the new article “Documenting the Link between Poor Food Access and Less Healthy Product Assortment across the U.S.” featured in the Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, Lauren Chenarides from Arizona State University and Edward (Ted) Jaenicke from Pennsylvania State University examine the relationship between census tracts with poor food access and healthy product assortments featuring fruits and vegetables.

“The results suggest that consumers living in already underserved neighborhoods face an additional burden, namely the lack of availability of universally-accepted healthy food items” says Chenarides. She continued “we use six years of micro-level retailer scanner data from IRI, along with three other sources that describe the food retail environment and market characteristics, to examine both the extensive and intensive aspects of food access and food availability across the U.S. food retailing landscape.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview with Lauren Chenarides, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190