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.

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 to the council.

The Tulane Prevention Research Center is a founding member of the Steering Committee for the FPAC. Members of FPAC include:

* Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

FPAC History:

In January 2008, the Food Policy Advisory Committee presented the City Council with a set of achievable recommendations to improve access to supermarkets, farmers markets, and other fresh food retail outlets, outlined in the report Building Healthy Communities: Expanding Access to Fresh Food Retail. As a result of this report and work by FPAC members and city officials to implement its recommendations, the City of New Orleans established the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative in 2011. This $14 million loan program is administered by the City of New Orleans, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) and The Food Trust are partners in administering this citywide program. As of summer 2013, three loans have been awarded.

On a state-wide level, the FPAC educated state legislatures about the opportunity to develop a program similar to Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative. Such a program would provide grants and loans to fresh food retailers across the state that plan to open or expand offerings in under-served areas. LA Senate Resolution 112 (2008) established the State Healthy Food Retail Study Group, which released a report highlighting its findings and outlining recommendations for the development of a Healthy Food Retail Financing Program. Based on this report, LA Act 252 (Senate Bill 299), known as the Healthy Food Retail Act, was passed during the 2009 Legislative Session. The law set up a mechanism for financing at the state level, but the program has not been funded.

In the fall of 2009, the FPAC launched its second major initiative, focused on improving School Food and Child Nutrition. The result was the report “Stepping Up to the Plate: Transforming School Food in New Orleans.” The FPAC has since worked to help other parts of Louisiana establish food policy groups and organized the first annual Louisiana Food Access Summit in 2012.

In 2017, The Tulane PRC received a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to work on increasing healthy eating opportunities for children and families through the FPAC. The grant will allow the Tulane PRC to assess the local food policy landscape, develop a 5-year strategic plan, and provide education around evidence-based, equitable and sustainable food policy. This will help FPAC identify and address the policy barriers that exist in the food system and craft a plan to build a stronger New Orleans food system through research, engagement, and education.

In August 2018, the New Orleans City Council re-instated FPAC as an advisory group to the council.
If you are interested in learning more about the Food Policy Advisory Committee, visit or contact FPAC co-chair Elisa Munoz at or 504-383-3364.

Visit our publications page to read about FPAC’s work.

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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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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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…

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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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Featured Publications


Nutrition and Food Availability


Are School Employees Role Models of Healthful Eating? Dietary Intake Results from the ACTION Worksite Wellness Trial


Physical Activity


Data to action: using formative research to develop intervention programs to increase physical activity in adolescent girls.

all scientific publications


Policy Briefs


Food Availability


Policy Briefs



all prc publications