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General Food Environment Resources

Food Environment

The food environment   is

  • The physical presence of food that affects a person’s diet,
  • A person’s proximity to food store locations,
  • The distribution of food stores, food service, and any physical entity by which food may be obtained, or
  • A connected system that allows access to food.

The food environment is also known as the community food environment, nutritional food environment, or local food environment. The retail food environment includes the community level (e.g., presence and locations of food stores, markets, or both) and the consumer level (e.g., healthful, affordable foods in stores, in markets, or in both).

Resource Library/ White Papers

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities: An Annotated Resource Guide for Healthy Eating and Community Design. Available at: [PDF - 590 KB].

Designed for disease: the link between local food environments and obesity and diabetes. Available at: [PDF - 162 KB].

Access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods: Opportunities for public policy. Rudd Report, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University. Available at:
yale_rudd_center_access_to_healthy_foods_report_2008.pdf [PDF - 177 KB]

A Place for Healthier Living: Improving Access to Physical Activity and Healthier Foods. Available at:

University of Washington, Center for Public Health Nutrition, policy and environmental change resources. Available at:

The links between the neighborhood food environment and childhood nutrition. Available at: [PDF - 1.51 MB].

A plan for Atlanta’s sustainable food future from the Atlanta local food initiative. Available at:

Journal Articles

Boyle, M. Environmental strategies and policies to support healthy eating and physical activity in low-income communities. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 2006;1(2): 3-25.

Crawford D. Children's fruit and vegetable intake: Associations with the neighborhood food environment. Preventive Medicine 2008 Apr;46(4):331-5.

Diez-Roux AV, Nieto FJ, Caulfield L, Tyroler HA, Watson RL, Szklo M. Neighbourhood differences in diet: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. J Epidemiol Community Health 1999;53(1):55–63.

Dixon J. The health equity dimensions of urban food systems. Journal of Urban Health 2007; 84(1):118–28.

Gottlieb R. Where We Live, Work, and Play… and Eat: Expanding the Environmental Justice Agenda. Environmental Justice 2009;2(1):7–8.

Gottlieb R and Fisher A.. Community food security and environmental justice: Searching for a common discourse. Journal of Agriculture and Human Values 1996;3(3):23–32.

Hamm MW and Bellows AC. Community food security: background and future directions. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 2003;35(1):37–43.

Horowitz CR, Colson KA, Hebert PL, Lancaster K. Barriers to buying healthy foods for people with diabetes: evidence of environmental disparities. American Journal of Public Health. 2004; 94:1549–554.

Jetter KM, Cassady DL. The availability and cost of healthier food alternatives. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(1):38–44.

Kantor L. Community food security programs improve food access. Food Review 2001;24(1):20–26.

Kloppenburg J, Hendrickson J, Stevenson GW. Coming into the foodshed. Agriculture and Human Values 1995;13:33–42.

Munoz-Plaza, C. et al. Disparities in food access: inner-city residents describe their local food environment. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 2007;2(2/3);51–63.

Pelletier DL, Kraak V, McCullum C, Uusitalo U. Values, public policy and community food security. Agriculture and Human Values 2000;17(1):75–93.

Pelletier DL, Kraak V, McCullum C, Uusitalo U, Rich R. Community food security: salience and participation at community level. Agriculture and Human Values 1999;16:401–19.

Sloane DC, Diamant AL, Lewis LB, et al. Improving the nutritional resource environment for healthy living through community-based participatory research. J Gen Intern Med 2003;18(7):568–75.

Story M, Kaphingst KM, Robinson-O'Brien R, Glanz K. Creating healthy food and eating environments: policy and environmental approaches. Annual Review of Public Health 2008;29;253–72.

Zenk SN, Schulz AJ, Israel BA, James SA, Bao SM, Wilson ML. Fruit and vegetable access differs by community racial composition and socioeconomic position in Detroit, Michigan. Ethn Dis 2006;16(1):275–80.

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