Socioeconomic Status, percentage below poverty level, ethnicity, minority, store availability, access to healthy food


Debbie Lown, Ph.D., R.D.


Background: Environment has a large impact on one’s health. Populations that have a lack of access to healthy foods have a higher risk for developing nutrition related illnesses. The purpose of this independent 499 study was to determine if there is a disparity in healthy food availability, food store environment, food quality and price between a low-income racially heterogeneous neighborhood and low-income Hispanic/Latino neighborhood in the Grand Rapids area.

Methods: Two low-income neighborhoods of different ethnic mixes were selected using the Johnson Center Community Profiles. The Grandville population is 2,206 with 77.2% Hispanic and Latino, 11% Black or African American, and 8% white, while the Oldtown-Heartside population is 2,130 with 57.6% White, 29.6% Black or African American, and 7.9% Hispanic or Latino. A list of stores compiled by the Kent County Essential Needs Task Force was used to determine which stores fell in the two borders of interest outlined on the Johnson Center map. The CX3 survey provided by the California Department of Public Health was used to compare store availability and environment between neighborhoods. Using this survey, data on healthy foods, quality of healthy foods and advertisements were collected on 4 different stores (2 in each neighborhood).

Results: The selections of stores in both neighborhoods were limited. Heartside had a wider variety of stores, but very few offered healthy foods. When comparing a small market in Heartside with a small market in Grandville, this market had a larger variety of produce and greater number of advertisements for healthy foods, but these foods were more expensive.

Conclusion: There was limited availability to stores providing food in both low-income neighborhoods. My study results agree with previous research indicating low-income Caucasian neighborhoods have a greater selection of healthy foods as well as more advertisements for healthy foods as compared to low-income neighborhoods of color.