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New Findings in the Effort to Eliminate Food Deserts

AAEA member research looks into why it takes more than a new grocery store

There is an active movement nationwide to eliminate the growing problem of food deserts, which the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines as a low-income area where residents have low access to a supermarket or grocery store.

Current legislation on the local and federal levels is in place to attempt expanding access to fruits and vegetables in areas that are under-served by the industry. But are these policies effective?

That is the focus of new research by AAEA member Linlin Fan of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “The Welfare Impact of Expanding Access to Fruits and Vegetables in Food Deserts” looks at how consumers respond to better access to fruits and vegetables.

This brand new research not only looks into the welfare of consumers, but gives a new look into why supermarkets may not be going up inside these food deserts where, for years, people have said they are most-needed.

Fan also has coinciding research on “Does a Nutritious Diet Cost More in Food Deserts?” that she is presenting at the Allied Social Science Association Annual Meeting, being held January 6-8, 2017, in Chicago.

If you are interested in more information on either paper, or setting up an interview with the author, please contact Jay Saunders 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 20 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

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