Access to varied, healthy and inexpensive foods is an important public health concern that has been widely documented. Consequently, there is an increasing interest in identifying food deserts, that is, socially deprived areas within cities that have poor access to food retailers. In this paper we propose a methodology based on three measures of accessibility to supermarkets calculated using geographic information systems (GIS), and on exploratory multivariate statistical analysis (hierarchical cluster analysis), which we use to identify food deserts in Montréal.
First, the use of three measures of accessibility to supermarkets is very helpful in identifying food deserts according to several dimensions: proximity (distance to the nearest supermarket), diversity (number of supermarkets within a distance of less than 1000 metres) and variety in terms of food and prices (average distance to the three closest different chain-name supermarkets). Next, the cluster analysis applied to the three measures of accessibility to supermarkets and to a social deprivation index demonstrates that there are very few problematic food deserts in Montréal. In fact, census tracts classified as socially deprived and with low accessibility to supermarkets are, on average, 816 metres away from the nearest supermarket and within 1.34 kilometres of three different chain-name supermarkets.
We conclude that food deserts do not represent a major problem in Montréal. Since geographic accessibility to healthy food is not a major issue in Montréal, prevention efforts should be directed toward the understanding of other mechanisms leading to an unhealthy diet, rather than attempting to promote an even spatial distribution of supermarkets.
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This study was undertaken to understand food insecurity from the perspective of households who experienced it. The results of group interviews and personal interviews with 98 low-income households from urban and rural areas in and around Québec City, Canada, elicited the meaning of "enough food" for the households and the range of manifestations of food insecurity. Two classes of manifestations characterized the experience of food insecurity: (1) its core characteristics: a lack of food encompassing the shortage of food, the unsuitability of both food and diet and a preoccupation with continuity in access to enough food; and a lack of control of households over their food situation; and (2) a related set of potential reactions: socio-familial perturbations, hunger and physical impairment, and psychological suffering. The results substantiate the existence of food insecurity among Québecers and confirm that the nature of this experience is consistent with many of the core components identified in upstate New York. This study underlines the monotony of the diet, describes the feeling of alienation, differentiates between a lack of food and the reactions that it engenders, and emphasizes the dynamic nature of the experience.
The present study explores the spatial distribution and in-store availability of fresh fruits and vegetables from a socio-environmental perspective in terms of the type of food store, level of deprivation and the setting (urban/rural) where the food outlets are located.
Seven types of fresh fruit and vegetable stores (FVS) were identified then visited in six districts (urban setting) and seven communities (rural setting). The quantity and diversity of fresh fruits and vegetables (F&V) were also assessed.
Québec City, Canada.
The FVS spatial distribution showed differences between the two settings, with accessibility to supermarkets being more limited in rural settings. The quantity and diversity of fresh F&V in-store availability were associated with the type of FVS, but not with setting or its level of deprivation. Greengrocers and supermarkets offered a greater quantity and diversity of fresh F&V than the other FVS.
The results suggest that inequalities in physical access to fresh F&V across the region could have an impact on public health planning considering that supermarkets, which are one of the excellent sources of F&V, are less prevalent in rural settings.
To examine the cost of fruits and vegetables (FV) with respect to different food store types, urbanization level and material deprivation for various urban areas of greater Quebec City.
A sample of 85 food stores was selected. They represented five store types (small, conventional, and large grocery stores; greengrocers; convenience stores) in four geographic areas reflecting three different socio-economic levels. We identified three FV baskets (grocery, fresh FV, convenience) by drawing on data on household food spending and consumption, and food supply in the five store types. Four investigators were trained to conduct a survey of prices for the week of September 17-23, 2007. Analysis of variance and t tests were conducted to examine variations in food baskets with regard to the variables defined in this study. A chi-square test was used to measure the frequency distribution of stores throughout the greater Quebec City.
Only food store type had a significant influence on FV cost: cost was much lower in large grocery stores and greengrocers. Convenience stores, where prices are higher, outnumbered all others in deprived urban areas, supporting the contention that there are inequities in economic access.
Economic access to FV may differ by area in the greater Quebec City, putting rural inhabitants and less privileged urban dwellers at the greatest disadvantage; this may, in turn, contribute to health disparities. The results point to the need to improve our understanding of the way components of the food environment at the regional level affect social inequality.
The aim of the study was (i) to describe the needs of food-insecure households and their assessment of community programmes, as expressed by households and perceived by stakeholders; and (ii) to examine the similarities and differences between households' and stakeholders' perceptions in Quebec City area.
A semi-structured interview and sociodemographic questionnaire with fifty-five households and fifty-nine stakeholders (community workers, managers, donor agencies). The transcriptions were subjected to content analysis and inter-coder reliability measurement.
The respondents' perceptions converge towards three main categories of needs: needs specific to food security, conditions necessary for achieving food security and related needs. There was agreement on the necessity of better financial resources, although the impact of financial resources alone may be uncertain in the opinion of some stakeholders. Different perceptions of needs and of their fulfilment by community programmes emerge between both groups. Despite households found positive aspects, they complained that quality of food and access were major needs neglected. Their account suggests overall a partial fit between the programmes and food security needs; even a combination of programmes (e.g. collective kitchens, purchasing groups, community gardens) was insufficient to adequately meet these needs. In contrast, most stakeholders perceived that the household's primary need was a basic amount of food and that the households were satisfied with programmes.
It is urgent to evaluate the overall effect of community programmes on specific aspects of household food insecurity. The results emphasise that community programmes alone cannot bring about social change needed to prevent food insecurity.