The Intersection of Food Deserts and Food Assistance Deserts in El Paso County, Texas
Although access to both supermarkets and food assistance sites are important for addressing food insecurity, previous studies have not examined how food deserts and food assistance deserts spatially coincide or analyzed their characteristics separately. This thesis sought to address this gap by identifying the locations and socio-demographic characteristics of neighborhoods classified on the basis of multiple food access categories in El Paso County, Texas: food deserts, food assistance deserts, and areas where both food deserts and food assistance deserts overlap. The goal was to determine if racial/ethnic minorities and other socially disadvantaged individuals are more likely to reside in neighborhoods associated with these food access categories. This study uses data from the 2019 American Community Survey, US Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Food Research Atlas, and the Sun City Hunger Relief Coalition’s 2019 Food Assistance Calendar. Statistical analyses are based on bivariate Z-tests of proportions that compare the socio-demographic characteristics of different food access categories to those outside these areas, as well as multivariate generalized estimating equations that account for spatial clustering to estimate the likelihood of a neighborhood being classified as one of the food access categories based on relevant socio-demographic factors. Results from bivariate comparisons showed that racial/ethnic minorities and socially disadvantaged groups are more likely to reside in neighborhoods classified as food insecure. In food deserts and food assistance deserts, groups that are significantly overrepresented include Hispanic, less than high school educated, limited English proficient, and foreign born populations, and renters. In neighborhoods where food deserts and food assistance deserts overlap, there was a significant overrepresentation of all racial/ethnic minority groups, as well as less than high school educated, limited English proficient, and foreign born populations, as well as renters. Additionally, multivariate modeling results revealed the strongest indicators of a neighborhood being classified as one of the food access categories. These comprised non-Hispanic Blacks, other non-Hispanic people of color, and renters for food deserts, and all racial/ethnic minority groups and those with limited English proficiency for food assistant deserts. In neighborhoods where food deserts and food assistance deserts overlap, the most significant indicators included other non-Hispanic people of color, limited English proficient, and unemployed populations, as well as renters. This thesis contributes to research on food security by identifying where food secure and food insecure neighborhoods are located within El Paso County, which socio-demographic groups are underrepresented in food insecure neighborhoods, and the most significant indicators of a neighborhood being classified as food insecure. More detailed analyses that focus on specific food insecure neighborhoods and their residents are necessary to understand the processes through which food deserts, food assistance deserts, and their areas of overlap are created and why specific socially disadvantaged groups reside in such areas.
Aun, Jacob J, "The Intersection of Food Deserts and Food Assistance Deserts in El Paso County, Texas" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30242271.