Conceptualizing College Campuses as Food Deserts

Authors: Doug Meneely, Chester County Planning Commission, Megan Heckert*, West Chester University
Topics: Planning Geography, Social Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: food desert, food access
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is a large and growing literature on food access and the conceptualization of food deserts as locations where residents lack ready access to affordable, fresh, and healthy food. Geographers have offered a number of methods for identifying food deserts, increasingly acknowledging that context matters when attempting to identify food deserts. This has particularly taken the form of using alternate methods to identify urban and rural regions as food deserts. This research explores the idea of a new conceptualization of food deserts that fits college campuses. In particular, we argue that despite college campuses often being located within areas that are not themselves identified as food deserts, they can be experienced as such by students who may be particularly constrained in their ability to access food due to restrictions on both physical mobility and financial resources. This paper explores particular challenges to food access as experienced by college students and suggests a model to identify campus food deserts as potentially different from urban or rural food deserts.

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