Recent Literature

Topics in community food assessment and community food security

Pothukuchi, K. (2004). Community Food Assessment : A First Step in Planning for Community Food Security. Journal of Planning Education and Research,  23(4), 356-377.

Abstract: Community food assessments (CFAs) con- stitute a first step in planning for commu- nity food security. Community food security is a situation in which all commu- nity residents obtain a safe, culturally ac- ceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that also maximizes community self-reliance and social justice. Through a study of nine CFAs, this article discusses their common threads to planning, how a planning ap- proach might strengthen CFAs, and what planners might learn from them. Four CFAs led by professionals with planning backgrounds employed spatial mapping techniques to analyze a variety of issues, explored more and diverse community- food linkages, used multiple sources and methods, envisioned a key role for com- munity planning agencies, distributed their findings widely to a local and na- tional audience of professional planners, and helped place planners in leadership positions of the national community food security movement. Implications of this study for planning education, research, and practice are discussed.


Hwang, M. and M. Smith (2012). Integrating publicly available web mapping tools for cartographic visualization of community food insecurity: a prototype. GeoJournal, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 47-62.

Abstract: Spatial profiling of community food secu- rity data can help the targeting of geographic areas and populations most vulnerable to food insecurity. While multiple poverty mapping systems support spatial profiling, they often lack capabilities to disseminate mapping results to a wide range of audiences and to spatially link qualitative data to quantitative analysis. To address these limitations, this study presents a web mapping framework which integrates a variety of publicly available software tools to enable spatial exploration of both quantitative and qualitative data. Specifically, our framework allows online choropleth mapping and thematic data exploration through a mixture of free mapping Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and open source software tools for spatial data processing and desktop-like user inter- faces. The study demonstrates this framework by developing a web prototype for informing food insecurity issues in Bogotá, Colombia. The prototype implementation reveals that the proposed framework facilitates the development of scalable and function- ally-extensible mapping systems and the identification of community-specific food insecurity problems (e.g., food kitchens inaccessible from workplaces of low- income residents). This suggests that web-based cartographic visualization using publicly available software tools can be useful for spatial examination of community food insecurity as well as for cost-effective distribution of the resulting map information.


Topics in food systems, food security, and assessment


Talbot, K. (2012). A participatory, transformational approach to urban food security research. Ph.D. thesis.

Abstract: Contemporary urban food security in the US is influenced by complex, multidimensional, and multi-scale factors. However, most assessment methods and intervention efforts in food security research are: 1) narrowly focused on environmental factors (i.e. the presence or absence of quality food outlets), 2) divorced from the human dimension and, 3) ultimately disempower communities to affect change at the local level. New approaches are needed to capture the lived experiences and unique perspectives of people potentially most vulnerable to food insecurity, while also empowering people to become change agents in their lives and in the wider community. This thesis argues that sustainability problem solving frameworks such as transformational sustainability research (TSR), and community- based participatory research (CBPR) provide promising bases from which to address these deficiencies. Through interactive workshops with youth in Canyon Corridor, a neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, I demonstrate the potential of concept mapping, sketch mapping, and intervention mapping methods that prioritize participation and co-production of knowledge to: 1) better understand the contextual, community- identified factors that contribute to food security or food insecurity, 2) identify and adapt interventions for the local context and, 3) promote community agency and action. Workshop outcomes suggest the relevance of these frameworks and methods, and the potential for more people- and place-based approaches to food security research.


Feagan, R. (2007). The place of food: mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems. Progress in Human Geography 31(1) (2007) pp. 23–42.

Abstract: ‘Local food systems’ movements, practices, and writings pose increasingly visible structures of resistance and counter-pressure to conventional globalizing food systems. The place of food seems to be the quiet centre of the discourses emerging with these movements. The purpose of this paper is to identify issues of ‘place’, which are variously described as the ‘local’ and ‘community’ in the local food systems literature, and to do so in conjunction with the geographic discussion focused on questions and meanings around these spatial concepts. I see raising the profile of questions, complexity and potential of these concepts as an important role and challenge for the scholar-advocate in the realm of local food systems, and for geographers sorting through them. Both literatures benefit from such a foray. The paper concludes, following a ‘cautiously normative’ tone, that there is strong argument for emplacing our food systems, while simultaneously calling for careful circumspection and greater clarity regarding how we delineate and understand the ‘local’. Being conscious of the constructed nature of the ‘local’, ‘community’ and ‘place’ means seeing the importance of local social, cultural and ecological particularity in our everyday worlds, while also recognizing that we are reflexively and dialectially tied to many and diverse locals around the world.


Topics in GIS, food mapping, and food systems

Lucan, S.C. and N. Mitra (2011). The food environment and dietary intake: demonstrating a method for GIS-mapping and policy-relevant research. Journal of Public Health (2012) 20:375–385.


Aims: The aims of this paper are (1) to assess if perceptions of the food environment are associated with select dietary intake by neighborhood, and (2) to map neighborhood- specific findings, demonstrating a method for policy- relevant research.

Methods Using pre-collected data from a Philadelphia, PA community health survey, we aggregated individual-level data (n 0 4,434 respondents) to neighborhoods (n 0 381 cen- sus tracts), adjusting for conceptually-relevant socio- demographic factors. We estimated Spearman correlations between multivariable adjusted food-environment percep- tions (perceived produce availability, supermarket accessi- bility, grocery quality) and select dietary intake (reported fruit-and-vegetable and fast-food consumption), and mapped variables by neighborhood using geographic infor- mation systems (GIS).

Results Difficulty finding fruits and vegetables, having to travel outside of one’s neighborhood to get to a super- market, and poor grocery quality were each directly correlated with fast-food intake (rho 0 0.21, 0.34, 0.64 respectively; p values <0.001); and inversely correlated with fruit-and-vegetable intake (rho 0 –0.35, –0.54, –0.56 respec- tively; p values <0.001). Maps identified neighborhoods within the city with the worst food-environment perceptions and poorest dietary intakes.

Conclusion: Negative perceptions of the food environment were strongly correlated with less-healthy eating in neigh- borhoods. Maps showed the geographic areas of greatest concern. Our findings demonstrate a method that might be used prospectively in public health for policy planning (e.g. to identify neighborhoods most in need), or retrospectively for policy assessment (e.g. to identify changes in neighbor- hoods after policy implementation).


Kremer, P. and T.L. DeLiberty (2011). Local food practices and growing potential: Mapping the case of Philadelphia. Journal of Applied Geography 31 (2011) 1252-1261.

Abstract: Local food systems receive increasing attention as a potential solution to problems in the globalized food system, and the promotion of agriculture and urban sustainability. Despite the centrality of geography of place in the study and practice of local food systems, methods of geographical analysis examining local food systems are just beginning to develop. In this paper we argue that spatial research methods are central to the understanding and evaluation of different components of local food systems. We use the city of Philadelphia as an example to explore the socio-spatial structure of the current local food system, and the integration of remote sensing and GIS techniques to estimate land potential for urban food production.


Topics in intervention mapping


Belansky, E.S., N. Cutforth, R.A. Chavez, E. Waters and K. Bartlett-Horch (2011). An Adapted Version of Intervention Mapping (AIM) Is a Tool for Conducting Community-Based Participatory Research. Health Promotion Practice Vol. 12, No. 3, 440-455.

Abstract: The field of public health is increasingly using commu- nity-based participatory research (CBPR) to address complex health problems such as childhood obesity. Despite the growing momentum and funding base for doing CBPR, little is known about how to undertake intervention planning and implementation in a community-academic partnership. An adapted version of Intervention Mapping (AIM) was created as a tool for university and elementary school partners to create school-level environment and policy changes aimed at increasing student physical activity and healthy eating. After AIM was completed, interviews were conducted with school partners. Findings indicate AIM is closely aligned to 7 of 9 CBPR principles. Examples include equitable involvement of all partners, co-learning, and balancing knowledge generation and community improvement. Shortcomings, lessons learned, and sug- gestions for strengthening the AIM process are described.

Ogden, Carroll, & Flegal, 2008), the United States con- tinues to face a childhood obesity epidemic. Almost 19% of the nation’s population ages 6 to 11 are obese (a fourfold increase since 1963), and Hispanic children have higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic Whites (Ogden et al., 2006). These alarming statistics present a pressing need for interventions aimed at increasing physical activity and healthy eating among young chil- dren. Public schools are an important setting for pro- moting health behaviors and reversing obesity trends (Serdula et al., 1993). However, access to unhealthy foods in schools combined with limited opportunities for daily physical activity undermines schools’ poten- tial to promote healthy behaviors. For example, 60% and 70% of school districts across the country allow junk foods to be sold in à la carte and vending machines (O’Toole, Anderson, Miller, & Guthrie, 2007). In addi- tion, despite the recommendation for daily physical education (PE) by several national organizations such as the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2000), only 4% of elementary schools offer daily PE (Lee, Burgeson, Fulton, & Spain, 2007).

The Institutes of Medicine’s (IOM) Childhood Obesity Task force (Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth, 2005) is calling for schools to make healthier foods available to students, create daily opportunities for physical activity, and provide health education. These IOM recommendations are important to implement but require significant time and resources that most school administrators and teachers do not have because of competing priorities, such as high stakes testing (Belansky et al., 2009). University researchers are well positioned to partner with schools in accomplishing IOM recommendations as they pos- sess knowledge and skills related to evidence-based practices, intervention design, and evaluation. This article describes such a partnership in which the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center’s (RMPRC) School Environment Project (SEP) sought to assist school personnel in creating environment and policy changes related to nutrition and physical activity using an adapted version of Intervention Mapping (AIM).


Topics in mapping, food security, and food systems

Morrison, K.T., T.A. Nelson, A.S. Ostry (2011). Methods for mapping local food production capacity from agricultural statistics. Agricultural Systems 104 (2011) 491–499.

Abstract: Interest in local food security has increased in the last decade, stemming from concerns surrounding environmental sustainability, small scale agriculture, and community food security. Promotions for con- sumption of locally produced foods have come from activists, non-governmental organizations, as well as some academic and government research and policy makers. Methods to empirically assess the types and quantities of crops and animals produced locally (i.e., local food production capacity) are under- developed, hindering the ability of policy makers to effect innovative local food security policy. In this paper, we demonstrate methods to estimate local food production capacity using regularly gathered fed- eral Agricultural Census and survey data for a Canadian province. The methods are generalizable to other provinces and nations. Operating at the sub-provincial scale of Local Health Area (LHA), our goal is to integrate census farmland and survey yield data to construct local food production estimates in each LHA. We also assess the stability of these surveyed agricultural yields over time to determine the tempo- ral extent of data required for reasonable representation of product yields. We find that provincial yield data may be used to construct reasonable estimates of local scale food production, due to the high level of regionalization in productive farmland of each product in the province. However, many products exhibit significant yield variability over time, suggesting that, for some foods, local production capacity is a dynamic and variable concept. The methods developed will be useful for researchers and government officials alike, as well as a first step towards more advanced modeling of current local food capacity and future potential.


Topics in spatial analysis, and food security

Morrison, K.T., T.A. Nelson, A.S. Ostry (2011). Mapping spatial variation in food consumption. Journal of Applied Geography 31 (2011) 1262-1267.

Abstract: Data on food consumption trends are often provided nationally and spatial variation in eating habits is dif!cult to estimate in Canada. Here, we present methods for mapping provincial aspatial food consumption data by accounting for spatial variability in population structure (age and gender). This type of data and analysis could be useful for researchers and policy makers interested in promoting the consumption of locally produced food, as assessing nutritional demand will be a critical !rst step. We present a method for constructing food consumption estimates for Local Health Areas in British Columbia; however, methods outlined could be applied to other jurisdictions and other units when demographic characteristics are known. Because age and gender impact food consumption, the demo- graphic pro!le of a given local area will drive food consumption patterns. For instance, among 18e44 year olds, men consume 50% more food than women, but eat 30% fewer fruits and vegetables. Given regional differences in demographic composition, consumption patterns for men and women at different ages have notable spatial variability. Linking aspatial consumption data with demographic data enables mapping spatial variation in food consumption.


Guidry, M.M. (2010). A spatial analysis of healthy food availability in urban neighbours. Ph.D. thesis. 

Abstract: Food insecurity and poor access to healthy foods is a global and local issue. In the United States, urban populations demonstrate enormous disparities in quality and access to food resources necessary for a healthy life. This study demonstrates that although healthy foods may be available within a close proximity to some urban neighborhoods, these resources may be in limited supply or inaccessible by segments of local populations. In south and southwest Philadelphia, two neighborhoods demonstrate a high concentration of fresh food and vegetable availability characterized by supermarket service regions of approximately 0.10 square miles. Six additional high density neighborhoods demonstrate much lower availability with supermarket service regions extending to 2.53 square miles. Gaps or underserved areas outside supermarket service areas demonstrate a lower rate of accessibility to fresh fruit and vegetables than the corresponding service areas of supermarkets. Within supermarket service areas the density of grocers stocking fresh fruits and vegetables is 35.3 grocers per square mile. In supermarket gap areas this number drops to 7.1 grocers per square mile. Thus some neighborhoods have access not only to supermarkets, but also benefit from a higher density of smaller grocers stocking fresh fruits and vegetables. Similarly, the mean produce accessibility rate for pedestrian supermarket service areas is 887.3 square feet of fresh fruits and vegetables per 1000 population. The produce accessibility rate drops significantly in pedestrian and public transit gap areas. In spite of statistical relationships between produce accessibility and location in a gap or service area, fruit and vegetable intake does not show a correlation with an accessibility measure to supermarkets. Policy recommendations include aligning transportation and food access for underserved areas and coupling education with improved access to improve healthy food intake. Neighborhoods vulnerable to poor fresh fruit and vegetable access tend to be less dense fringe areas of well established urban neighborhoods.