Evaluating SNAP food retailer access by an improved 2SFCA method

Authors: Xiang Chen*, Arkansas Tech University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA), food access, spatial interaction model
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall West, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the “food stamp” program, is a federal program to strengthen national food security across the US. In the process of authorizing SNAP food retailers, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prioritizes stores located in low-income low-access (LI-LA) census tracts, known as the “food deserts.” The LI-LA measures are unable to demarcate accessibility patterns and identify the regional difference on a smaller scale (e.g., block groups). To address the issue, the paper aims to measure the accessibility of SNAP-authorized food retailers using an improved two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method on the block group scale. The paper solicits both SNAP recipients and SNAP retailer data to characterize the inequality of access for the low-income population who is covered by the SNAP program. The 2SFCA-based food accessibility indexes are compared with the LI-LA food access measures by the USDA, serving as evidence to justify the proposed measure for small-area estimation. As a result, the research will help stakeholders to identify low-income communities with poor access to SNAP retailers and understand effective efforts for identifying gaps in the SNAP program in terms of store participation and benefit redemption.

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