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Urban Food Swamps: An analysis of urban food swamps, their consequences, and a consideration of mitigation strategies within Rochester, NY.

Authors: Elizabeth Anne Osborn*, SUNY - Geneseo
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Food, food swamp, urban
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A “food swamp” is an area with a high density of establishments selling high-calorie fast and junk food options, relative to a disproportionately low number of grocery stores and other healthier food options (Reel & Badger, 2014; Cooksey-Stowers et al., 2017). Limited access to healthy foods, accompanied by overexposure to unhealthy options, breeds diet-related health issues for disadvantaged populations in low-income central city areas characterized by an influx of corner stores and fast food establishments filling the void of grocery stores and other healthy-food options, which tend to locate in more affluent urban fringes (Crowe, 2018). This research examines the phenomenon of food swamps and their consequences for urban populations, and offers a consideration of mitigation strategies. I explore a case study of the characteristics of urban food swamps in Rochester, NY through interviews, site visits to relevant community development organizations, textual analysis and interpretation, and GIS analysis. Most importantly, this research provides examples of avenues to address the problem at various scales. A number of mitigation strategies are currently being employed in Rochester by various organizations, including community gardens, nutrition classes, affordable healthcare offerings, food bank referrals, and mobile farmers markets to promote healthy diets in disadvantaged areas; however, more action is needed. This research recognizes that health and wellness disparities often stem from deeper-rooted issues of poverty and segregation, and that addressing these broader issues with additional policy initiatives and zoning modifications are key to long-term food swamp mitigation.

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