Panel Paper: The Impact of County-Level Food Environments on Household Food Insecurity

Thursday, November 8, 2018
8223 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Alannah Glickman, The Ohio State University

While much research has investigated the link between the food environment and health outcomes, less research has focused on the relationship between the food environment and food security. The food environment may affect food security by limiting or enhancing access to affordable and high quality food. Extant research in this area focuses on the neighborhood level food environment and remains inconclusive. Rather than emphasizing the neighborhood food environment, this project operationalizes the food environment at the county level, suggesting that retailer location may matter less than how many people each retailer serves. In addition, the county represents a unit of local government that often holds power to regulate food retail development.

This study investigates the relationship between county-level food environments, state-level food policies, and household level food security outcomes. Using household food security and demographic data from the 2010 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (CPS-FSS) and food environment data from the USDA’s Food Environment Atlas, I employ a logistic three-level hierarchical model to analyze: (a) the impact of county-level characteristics on household food security, and (b) the moderating effect of the food environment context on the relationship between household characteristics and food insecurity.

Preliminary results suggest significant variation in household food security between counties. The food retail environment explains some of this between-county variation, and the amount of certain types of food retailers moderates the relationship between household characteristics and food insecurity. The results of this paper highlight potential program and policy levers to improve household food security.