Food Environment Research

The Tulane PRC engages in a number of research projects related to neighborhood food environments in New Orleans. Studies show that people with access to fresh, healthy foods tend to have a healthier diet. In order to combat obesity, we must work to better understand the neighborhood food environment and increase community members’ access to healthy, sustainable food sources.

Corner Store Study


Past Project

This Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) project was an in-depth case study of a small corner grocery store in a low-income, minority neighborhood in New Orleans. The aims of the study were to analyze the financial benefits of selling healthy and unhealthy food items from the perspective of a small food store business in a low-income neighborhood and to evaluate the effect of increasing the in-store accessibility or promotion of healthy items on store sales and profits.

Data collection began in January 2009 and concluded in August 2010. Financial data collected from the store included the following: costs of wholesale product purchases by collecting weekly invoices, sales of specific items and item types by polling sales data daily from an electronic cash register, and monthly inventories of all items in the store. Baseline customer surveys were collected in June of 2009 to assess reasons for shopping at the store, preferences for additional items, specifically fruits and vegetables, and level of satisfaction with the store.

The intervention component of the project took place in March/April 2010. A produce cooler was installed in the store and was stocked with a larger variety of fresh produce. Additionally, promotional activities were conducted to increase awareness of the changes made to the store. A follow-up customer survey was collected in June of 2010 to evaluate customer opinions of the intervention and to assess if preferences for fruits and vegetables and opinions about the store changed over the course of the year.

  • Financial data collection: January 2009-August 2010
    • Invoices
    • Sales
    • Inventory
  • Customer surveys
    • Baseline June 2009
    • Follow-up June 2010
  • Intervention:March/April 2010
    • Installation of a produce cooler and stocking cooler with produce
    • Promotional activities
      • Taste testing of fresh fruit outside of the store
      • Postcard mailing to all neighborhood residents announcing the new cooler
      • Attendance at neighborhood association meetings and an article in the neighborhood association newsletter
  • Data analysis
    • Currently financial and customer survey data are being analyzed and prepared for publication

Click here to read the article (2016) on the study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.
Click here to read the article (2013) on a related corner store study in the Journal of Community Health.

Principal Investigator: Diego Rose, PhD, MPH, RD

Other Related Projects


Movin' for LIFE

The overall goal of the Movin’ for LIFE (Lasting Improvements for Fitness and Energy) project is to improve the health of residents by focusing on increasing health-related behaviors, such as healthy eating and being more physically active. Residents of the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East will participate in the program. A variety of strategies will be used to promote active and healthy lifestyles. Lessons learned will be used to create a…

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New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee

The New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee is a broad-based committee of area leaders working to improve access to fresh healthy food. The FPAC was authorized by a May 2007 resolution of the New Orleans City Council. For years after, FPAC met meets, independent of city government, to address various community needs involving food security and food access. In August 2018, the New Orleans City Council vote unanimously to re-instate FPAC as an advisory group…

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Center for Healthy Food Access (initiative with The Food Trust)

The Center for Healthy Food Access is a joint project between the Tulane Prevention Research Center and the Nutrition Section of the Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences Department in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The project is part of a national collaborative effort, led by The Food Trust’s new Center for Healthy Food Access, to help organizations and businesses increase access to and demand for healthy, affordable foods and beverages.…

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Core Research Project on Neighborhood Food Environment in New Orleans (2009-2014)

The Tulane Prevention Research Center’s core research project (2009-2014 grant cycle) examines the food environment in New Orleans, seeking to document changes since Hurricane Katrina, how these changes affect access to healthy food, and the impacts of these changes on food consumption behavior. The core research is community-based and relies on specific interventions and natural experiments to study the changing food landscape in New Orleans and its impacts on residents. Click here for the paper…

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Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN)

Past Project NOPREN is a thematic research network of the CDC Prevention Research Center Program. Its mission is to conduct trans-disciplinary nutrition- and obesity-related policy research and evaluation along a policy change continuum (see below). The work of NOPREN members will help foster understanding of the effectiveness of policies related to preventing childhood obesity through improved access to affordable, healthy foods and beverages in a variety of settings including communities, workplaces, healthcare facilities, childcare institutions,…

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Impact of Food Availability on Diet

In 2006, investigators began work on two new projects exploring the effects of the neighborhood environment on food consumption by residents. Neighborhood environments may contribute to the problem of obesity by providing excess availability of calorie-dense snack foods and insufficient availability of low-calorie nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. Low-income individuals – who often have difficult access to fresh fruits and vegetables – consume less of these foods and are more likely to be…

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Neighborhood Food Availability, Consumer Economics, and Sentinel Food Consumption

Past Project This 2-year project was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute through an R-21 research grant. The specific aims of this project were: To develop a standard set of measures of neighborhood food availability and a detailed modeling framework in which to test the association of these measures with consumption; To determine whether the availability of fruits and vegetables at the neighborhood level is associated with consumption of these foods by…

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New Orleans Food Access and Consumption Study

Past Project This project was funded for three years through the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service through their National Research Initiative. This was an integrated project, meaning that the research was integrated with extension and teaching components. The research objectives were similar to those described in the former study. The main distinction is that in this study, we were focused specifically on the City of New Orleans and the data sources were…

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