Assessing the Proximity of Healthy Food Options and Food Deserts in a Rural Area in Maine

Applied Geography, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 22 October 2010

Teresa A. Hubley

“The purpose of the project described in this paper was to assess and describe the food environment facing public assistance clients in a rural county in Maine. Using the concept of a “food desert” and an objective tool for rating participating food outlets, the research team developed a spatial model of client access to healthy foods. The final map shows that most rural residents are within acceptable distances of well-rated stores, though these may not be supermarkets.

“Research Highlights

  • “Food Deserts” are defined by distance to supermarkets as sources of healthy food.
  • Stores of all types can be objectively rated for fresh, reasonably priced healthy food.
  • Food deserts re-assessed through ratings may not be true deserts.
  • Information campaigns based on ratings can identify local places and foods to meet consumer needs”

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