Quantifying the Extent and Cost of Food Deserts in Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Applied Geography, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 20 October 2010

Lucius F. Hallett IV, Dave McDermott

“Food deserts are places in the urban environment of otherwise developed nations that are poorly served by access to healthful food. Included in these are vegetables, fruits, and cereals comprising the items needed for a healthy diet. The lack of healthful food imposes high costs on residents and is associated with health problems resulting from poor diets. We attempt to examine and refine the discussion of food deserts by using geographic information systems and remote sensing to quantitatively define such deserts and to measure the costs of distance imposed on consumers. Our initial application of these methods is in the small city of Lawrence, Kansas, USA, though the methods presented are appropriate for rural and urban communities as well.

“Research highlights

  • Maps the locations of full-service grocery stores with respect to transportation networks.
  • Uses remote sensing data to develop measures of size for food retailers.
  • Applies the concepts of cost surfaces to develop measures of the cost of accessing food.
  • Questions the validity and description of food deserts in the face of demographic and cost surface realities.”

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