The-influence-of-Hurricane-Katrina-on-disparities-in-food-access-in-New-Orleans

The influence of Hurricane Katrina on disparities in food access in New Orleans

Researchers suggest Hurricane Katrina can add another negative outcome to its destructive impact on the people of New Orleans: the worsening of existing disparities in neighborhood food access.

Access to healthy food is essential for health promotion efforts, and yet disparities in retail food access exist throughout the country. Virtually no studies have examined how these disparities change over time and if particular events, such as a natural disaster, have an impact on neighborhood food access.

A recent study published by Diego Rose and colleagues at the Prevention Research Center (PRC) at Tulane University indicates that disparities in neighborhood access to supermarkets in New Orleans worsened after Hurricane Katrina hit in fall 2005. Though some improvements to access have been made since 2007, disparities in neighborhood food access in 2009 were the same as pre-storm levels.

Rose and colleagues examined neighborhood access to supermarkets in New Orleans during three time periods, before Hurricane Katrina (2004-2005), in 2007 and in 2009. All 175 residential census tracks in New Orleans were studied. Because residents might shop beyond the borders of their census tracts, neighborhoods were defined by an area that was 1.2 miles in all directions (along the network of streets) from the center point of each tract. Researchers identified supermarkets using a directory and went into the field to verify a store's existence before geo-coding it. Neighborhoods were defined as predominantly African American if 80 percent or more of the tract population was identified as black using data from the U.S. Census and the Environmental Systems Research Institute.

Researchers determined that disparities in neighborhood access existed before Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, in 2007, supermarket access declined for all census tract neighborhoods, but was especially limited for African-American tracts, which were 71 percent less likely than other tracts to have access to an additional supermarket. Access improved slightly in 2009, but was not any better than pre-Katrina disparity levels, in which African-American tracts were 40 percent less likely than other tracts to have an additional supermarket.

"Disparities in neighborhood food access in New Orleans were a major public health problem before Hurricane Katrina and are still negatively impacting the city today," Rose said. "It is critical that local policy makers view increasing healthy food retail access as a priority for promoting health and community development."

The New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee (FPAC) – a group sanctioned by City Council to study healthy food access – developed a set of recommendations for improving access to fresh, healthy food in 2008.

"It was exciting to see one of FPAC's recommendations, the development of a Fresh Food Retail Incentive Program, be approved by the City of New Orleans in 2009," said Rose. "While still in the development stages, this program could go a long way for reducing disparities in healthy food access by providing low-interest and forgivable loans to retailers who commit to improving fresh food access."

Tulane PRC researchers have just finished counting and geo-coding supermarkets for the 2010 estimate. Data collection will proceed on a yearly basis so researchers can continue to assess changes in the food environment in New Orleans over time.

Read the full article in the American Journal of Public Health

Topics:   diet , nutrition , obesity , food access , food environment , food desert , community health , fpac

Other Related Posts

Post-Katrina-10-years-of-Tulane-PRC-work-to-rebuild-New-Orleans

Post-Katrina: 10 years of Tulane PRC work to rebuild New Orleans

Food Environment Research Physical Activity Research Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

Where we live shapes daily life, habits and health – ask anyone in New Orleans who's tried to walk on broken sidewalks or buy fresh produce in a neighborhood that lacks a full-service grocery store. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and the levee system failed in New Orleans in 2005, businesses shut down, roads were in shambles, and parks were unsafe. The opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity were wiped out. But…

Read More

New-Orleans-no-longer-a-supermarket-ghost-town

New Orleans no longer a supermarket ghost town

Food Environment Research

Published: August 24, 2015

Nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the number of grocery stores in New Orleans has recovered to pre-Katrina levels citywide and access has improved in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, according to new research from the Tulane Prevention Research Center published in the August issue of the Journal of Urban Health. By 2014, the number of supermarkets in New Orleans (see map) had returned to more than 30, compared to less than half of that in 2007.…

Read More

Message-from-the-Director

Message from the Director

Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

Another school year has just begun, and from kindergarten through college, students are gearing up for books, classes, sports teams and events, clicking again with old friends and looking forward to making new ones. It is an exciting time of the year, fall is just around the corner, and the 2015 football season will be making its debut this month. Yes, it is still warm out there, but the weather will soon be changing and…

Read More

Lafitte-Greenway-benefits-from-Tulane-PRC-practicum-student

Lafitte Greenway benefits from Tulane PRC practicum student

Education & Training Projects Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

Helping residents identify ways to increase availability of local foods and community gardens on the Lafitte Greenway, Kelly Bond, a recent master's level graduate from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, supported the nonprofit Friends of Lafitte Greenway (formerly Friends of Lafitte Corridor or FOLC) for her practicum this summer. Recently, Friends of Lafitte Greenway has been focusing on the 2.6-mile greenway's grand opening, as well as building programming and promoting…

Read More

Nutrition-Bites-Back-to-School-Basics

Nutrition Bites: Back to School Basics

Education & Training Projects Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

In August, Kids Eat Right Month highlighted some great ideas to support nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for students headed back to school. Here are a few ideas to get students eating healthy this school year. Breakfast can be a hard thing to fit into a busy morning; however, kids who eat breakfast are more likely to concentrate better, retain more information, and excel to higher levels in both reading and math! The night before,…

Read More

Community-Partner-Updates

Community Partner Updates

Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

Community Partner Updates See what our Community Advisory Board (CAB) members have been up to this summer. Click on the photo to view a gallery of pictures from some of our members. To find out more about the CAB, click here. Photos 1-5: The Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) focuses on coastal rehabilitation, greening the built environment and increasing food security by lifting up and strategically reinforcing community driven goals…

Read More

PRC-Staff-Spotlight

PRC Staff Spotlight

Physical Activity Research

Published: August 24, 2015

John Marmion, MPH, is the program coordinator for the Tulane Prevention Research Center's (PRC) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, a school-based education program in 10 New Orleans schools that focuses on teaching safe walking and biking skills to 4th and 5th graders and funded by the Louisiana State Department of Transportation. As the program manager, John works with New Orleans public schools and program partner Bike Easy, a local bike advocacy nonprofit, to implement…

Read More

Legislative-Briefs-Government-actions-on-obesity

Legislative Briefs: Government actions on obesity

Policy & Advocacy Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: August 24, 2015

Louisiana moves forward with farm to school plans Fifty participants gathered at Langston Hughes Academy in New Orleans mid-July for a Southeast regional Farm to School meeting led by Louisiana State University’s AgCenter, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Louisiana Farm to School Alliance. The meeting brought together school staff, nutrition and gardening advocates, policymakers, and community members to plan how to better connect locally grown food to students. Participants developed action plans for three farm…

Read More

Hundreds-of-New-Orleans-students-learn-safe-walking-biking

Hundreds of New Orleans students learn safe walking, biking

Physical Activity Research Special Community Engagement Projects

Published: June 29, 2015

New Orleans students hopped on bikes and laced up their shoes to practice safe walking and biking, as part of the inaugural Walk & Roll to School Week on May 9-15. The week of events promoted walking and biking for transportation and marked the end of a citywide program providing comprehensive road safety education to 335 students in 10 schools. That citywide program took place this past spring when the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC)…

Read More

From-nutrition-to-public-policy-Improving-healthy-food-access

From nutrition to public policy: Improving healthy food access

Food Environment Research Policy & Advocacy

Published: June 29, 2015

As the farm-to-table movement grows, nutrition and health professionals can be valuable contributors to public policymaking related to local foods and health, according to findings from the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC). Last year, faculty and staff at the Tulane PRC explored strategies for improving public health in Louisiana by conducting policy research and educating lawmakers. Several of the strategies were incorporated into state legislation, and two focused on leveraging local food production, especially of…

Read More

canary