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

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

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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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