Homeward Bound: Food-Related Transportation Strategies for Low Income Communities


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Homeward Bound: Food-Related Transportation Strategies for Low Income Communities

  1. 1. Homeward Bound Page 1 INTRODUCTION
  2. 2. Page 2 Homeward BoundI n 1993, a UCLA research team published with individual needs in securing an ad- a comprehensive study of the food sys equate diet, while the lack of food security tem, Seeds of Change: Strategies for referred to community and ownership is-Food Security for the Inner City. The study sues: access, availability, resources, price,included a detailed case study evaluating quality, environmental considerations, in-the ability of the food system to meet the come levels, and other community-relatedneeds of the residents of one South Central factors. Food security strategies might in-Los Angeles neighborhood. As part of that clude direct grower-to-consumer programsevaluation, the study documented a wide like farmers’ markets, urban agriculturerange of food insecurity indicators: opportunities such as community gardens, or community food production facilities• 27% of area residents reported they went such as bakeries or tortillerias. Programs hungry an average of five days every designed to address supermarket location month; and transportation access needs also repre- sented possible food security initiatives.• The absence of nearby supermarkets was These could include joint venture operations compounded by lower than average ve- to attract supermarkets in low income areas hicle ownership. Further, bus lines did as well as to create community benefits such not correspond to market location. As a as new paratransit services for residents result, the lack of transportation for food without cars, or other innovative transpor- buying purposes was defined by resi- tation programs for increased food access. dents as a major community problem; Thus the concept of food security, particu- larly in the context of food access, empha-• Food prices for residents of the case sizes the importance of location or place in study area — who spent 36% of their regional, municipal, and neighborhood- annual income on food — averaged $275 level (e.g., community) settings. more per year than residents of a selected suburban area who spent 12% of their Among the range of food insecurity indica- income on food; tors, the issues of access stand out as a pri- mary problem area in which several other• The lack of fresh quality produce illus- factors such as price, nutritional quality, or trated the issue of nutritional deficien- storage capability are significantly related. cies and related health and learning Yet despite the prominence of access needs problems that are endemic in low income in urban food systems, research by food sys- areas.1 tem analysts regarding transportation issues has been relatively sparse. TransportationIn response to such pronounced food secu- planners, meanwhile, have undertaken spe-rity needs, the Seeds of Change study also cific research involving equity consider-analyzed a number of recent, largely explor- ations in transportation planning, includingatory strategies designed to empower com- the limits of transportation systems address-munities and shift the focus of intervention ing the needs of low income communitiesfrom “hunger” to “food security”, a concept and the problems associated with low ve-that had up to then been used primarily in hicle ownership in car-dependent commu-the international development literature. nities like Los Angeles.2 Only a few studies,The study pointed out that the concept of however, have explored the connection be-hunger had been predominantly associated tween access and availability of fresh, high
  3. 3. Homeward Bound Page 3quality, competitively priced food in such proach to customer transportation needscommunities, even as surveys have indi- and the dearth of transportation planningcated that the access/availability link re- initiatives that incorporate food access, theremains a powerful concern in low income have nevertheless been recent attempts bycommunities.3 community organizations, food market managers, and government agencies to ad-The most common focus, both of research dress this issue. Out of these efforts, a vari-and advocacy work on those subjects, has ety of transportation/food access programsbeen the relationship between vehicle own- are currently in operation, at a developmentership and supermarket location.4 As de- stage, or represent concepts still needing toscribed in this Report, the trend towards be implemented. And while these programssupermarket abandonment of low income do suggest that opportunities for a food ac-neighborhoods that significantly escalated cess approach do exist, they remain sepa-during the 1960s and 1970s exacerbated an rate from any more integrated transporta-already existing problem tion strategies on the partof transportation access. of either retailers, trans-Even with the renewed portation planning agen-interest of food chains in Even with the renewed cies, or various servicerelocating to certain low interest of food chains in providers. For food ac-income urban communi- relocating to certain low cess to be more success-ties, supermarkets have income urban communi- fully addressed as a com-failed to directly address munity food security ap- ties, supermarkets havethe transportation ques- proach it needs to becometion. In analyzing retail failed to directly address part of a transportationindustry approaches, for the transportation ques- planning as well as foodexample, project team re- tion. system planning process.searchers have noted thenearly complete absence Homeward Bound is di-of any discrete transportation policy of the vided into five Sections. Section I, Foodmajor supermarket chains. This situation Access and The Transit Dependent, identi-prevails despite the clear (and often recog- fies a range of issues concerning the lack ofnized) benefits of such a policy, such as an food access in low income communities. Itincreased customer base or the possible re- elaborates the specific contributions to theduction in the replacement cost of shopping problems of food insecurity associated withcarts (which represent a considerable, access needs, such as supermarket locationthough hidden, cost associated with transit or nutritional deficiencies. It includes a lit-dependency and the lack of food access). erature review on access issues from both aWhere food retail managers have sought to food systems and transportation planningdevelop transportation programs for their perspective. Section II, Current Policies,stores, they have been influenced primarily reviews and analyzes the nature of the pro-by “goodwill” and “community service” grams and policies that have been estab-considerations, rather than an evaluation of lished regarding food access by both publictransportation/access factors in the context and private sector groups. These includeof store performance. 5 local and federal food and transportation programs, and the approach of the food re-Despite the absence of a supermarket ap- tail industry. Section III, Exploratory Pro-
  4. 4. Page 4 Homeward Boundgrams — Case Studies, describes variousexploratory and innovative programs thathave emerged in recent years, representingopportunities available for improving foodaccess in low income communities. Theseprograms are primarily, though not exclu-sively associated with paratransit services.While many of these programs have beensuccessful in terms of their (often looselydefined) objectives (as well as certain unan-ticipated benefits), they remain discrete, dis-tinctive examples, not linked to any broaderpolicy or planning approaches.Section IV, New Models for Greater FoodAccess, in seeking to build on the potentialapplicability of the kinds of programs de-scribed in Section III, identifies three typesof models for developing new policy andprogrammatic approaches in the food accessarea. These include a private, joint venture(public/private partnership), and non-profitapproach. Finally, a concluding section de-tails the Report’s policy and programmaticrecommendations for expanding food ac-cess.Food access, we have concluded, is an issuethat has yet to fully locate its own policy andprogrammatic niche. Yet, in an era of transitdependencies and growing food insecurityindicators, food access has become a grow-ing topic for both anti-hunger activists, thefood industry, and policymakers. By inte-grating food security and transportationplanning and policy development,policymakers, transit officials, the food in-dustry (including most crucially the foodretail sector), and community groups havethe capacity to establish more expansivefood access strategies beyond the limited, adhoc measures that exist today. The opportu-nities, our Report makes clear, are available,even if programs and policies still need tobe nourished and systematized.
  5. 5. Homeward Bound Page 5 ENDNOTES: INTRODUCTION1. Seeds of Change: Strategies for Food Se-curity for the Inner City, Linda Ashman etal., Department of Urban Planning, Univer-sity of California, Los Angeles, June 19932. See for example “Social Impacts of UrbanTransportation Decisions: Equity Issues”,David Hodge, in The Geography of UrbanTransportation, Edited by Susan Hanson,New York: The Guilford Press, 1995; The Carand the City: The Automobile, the Built En-vironment, and Daily Urban Life, edited byMartin Wachs and Margaret Crawford, AnnArbor: University of Michigan Press, 19923. See for example Community Retail NeedsAssessment, A Market Research Report Pre-pared for RLA, ConsumerQuest, Los Ange-les, May 3, 1995; see also The RelationshipBetween Transportation Services and UrbanActivities: The Food Retail DistributionCase, Youngbin Lee Yim, University of Cali-fornia, Berkeley: Institute of TransportationStudies, June 1990.4. See, for example, Public Voice for Foodand Health Policy, No Place to Shop: Chal-lenges and Opportunities Facing the Devel-opment of Supermarkets in Urban America,Washington D.C.: Public Voice, February19965. Seeds of Change, p.133 In one interview forthis Report, a supermarket executive actu-ally defined shopping cost losses as consti-tuting their transportation policy; that is,since stolen carts provided a means to trans-port the bags of groceries to the home, that,in effect, created a transportation “service”.
  6. 6. Page 6 Homeward Bound SECTION I: FOOD ACCESS AND THE TRANSIT DEPENDENT: WHERE TO GET FOOD AND HOW TO GET THERE Food Access and Community Food Security
  7. 7. Homeward Bound Page 7A crucial beginning point in evaluat nities, such as supermarket location, that are ing community food security is the access-based or have food access implica- relationship question of food access tions; b) the absence or availability of freshand transit dependency. Food access can be or high quality produce in different commu-defined as the ability of people to obtain the nities, such as through farmers’ markets, andfood items they need from the food outlets the health or nutritional implications of lackavailable in a given area, within the limits of access to such fresh produce; and c) theof their ability to get there and get back, nature of the transportation issues associ-among other factors. Any part of that rela- ated with food access in low income com-tionship — the nature of the food items and munities, including equity considerations,outlets available, the means and availabil- and the focus or lack of focus on intra-neigh-ity of transit, and the distance between resi- borhood needs, such as food shopping, indence and outlet — contributes to the mea- relation to some of the current transit plan-sure of food access for the residents of a par- ning approaches.ticular community. Put another way, themeasure of access is one crucial yardstick ofhow much food insecurity exists within that FOOD INSECURITY INDICATORScommunity. 1 Supermarket Location and Food AccessTransit dependent areas, in turn, can be de-fined as communities with a lower than av- Low income urban areas across the countryerage vehicle ownership within a given re- are disproportionately underserved by thegion, defined for the purposes of this study supermarket industry. In one analysis of 21as less than 80 percent. This definition re- medium to large sized cities sampled, su-flects the dominant role of the automobile permarkets in 19 of those cities were shownin both transportation planning and the to be inequitably distributed.2 Of those 19transportation infrastructure that has been cities, there were 30% fewer stores per capitaestablished in relation to that dominance. in the lowest income zip codes than in theThe problem of transit dependency is par- highest income zip codes. Similarly, thoseticularly exacerbated with respect to food zip codes with the greatest number of per-access concerns, given the problems of loca- sons on public assistance had 20% fewertion, pricing, and quality of both food and supermarkets than the zip codes that havetransportation services available. Indications a low percentage of persons receiving pub-of food insecurity then also underline the lic assistance. 3 Studies in cities such asproblems associated with transit depen- Cleveland, St Paul, East St Louis, IL, Sandency. Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas, underscore these statistics, painting a moreThis section describes access-related prob- detailed picture of the lack of food access inlems in transit dependent communities in- specific neighborhoods. 4volving two types of food outlets: full ser-vice food markets (e.g., supermarket chains) In Austin, Texas, for example, only one su-and direct marketing arrangements (e.g., permarket serves every 3,910 households infarmers’ markets). Several different dimen- the primarily Latino low income neighbor-sions of those food access/transit depen- hood of the Eastside as compared to one perdency relationships are explored: a) food 3,170 households in Travis County as ainsecurity indicators in low income commu- whole. An analysis of the supermarket in-
  8. 8. Page 8 Homeward Bounddustry reveals that increasing levels of con- son, in 1990, there was one full service foodcentration and centralization resulted in the store for every 26,400 people in what isloss to Texas communities of 500 supermar- broadly defined as inner city Los Angeles,kets from 1982 to 1987. Within the past year, versus one store per 15,200 people in thethree stores serving low income communi- suburban San Fernando Valley area. In eco-ties in Austin have closed while another nomic development terms, this deficit canthree have opened up in suburban commu- be viewed in light of its potential for sup-nities. According to Kate Fitzgerald, direc- porting new stores. In the 52 square miletor of Austin’s Sustainable Food Center, the “impacted area,” there exists $412 millionsponsoring organization of “Access De- of unmet annual demand for groceries,nied,” a report detailing food insecurity on which translates into 750,000 square feet ofthe Eastside, “Each of these supermarket selling space, or the equivalent of about 20relocations show how affluent neighbor- average size supermarkets. 6hoods gain food resources at the expense oflower income areas.”5 The absence of supermarkets in core urban areas has not always been the case. The shiftFitzgerald’s comments raise the issue of su- from urban core locations has its roots in thepermarket redlining and abandonment of 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, when supermarketinner city areas. Los Angeles represents an industry restructuring and the migration ofexcellent case study of how the industry re- the middle class to the suburbs led to whatstructured over the past two decades, dis- has been identified by some analysts as anproportionately affecting low income resi- “abandonment” of inner city neighbor-dents. The issue of food access became hoods. Supermarket flight during this pe-highly visible as a result of the 1992 civil dis- riod has been documented in multiple loca-turbances, and subsequent public commit- tions across the country. In Los Angeles, thements by virtually every supermarket chain number of chain supermarkets within anto rebuild in the “impacted areas.” In what area broadly defined as part of the inner cityis generally considered one of the most com- or urban core shrunk from 44 in 1975 to 31petitive food retailing markets in the nation, in 1991.7 Also, in 1975, one study found thatour research has documented how food low income communities in eight cities (Bir-store location patterns in Los Angeles mingham, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, LA,evolved so that large areas came to be dra- Newark, St Louis, and San Antonio) had onmatically underserved by the food retailing the average 32.7% fewer supermarkets thanindustry. higher income areas within those same cit- ies.8 Similarly, in 1984, a Hartford, Connecti-Computer mapping of supermarket loca- cut report found that 11 of 13 supermarketstions overlaid with census data reveals that within city limits had closed their doors.9over one million persons in Los AngelesCounty reside in areas where access to su- As described in several studies, the shift ofpermarkets may be problematic. These “su- supermarket locations outside the urbanpermarket deficient areas” (see Map 1) are core coincided and ultimately convergeddefined as places without a supermarket with parallel trends regarding populationwithin walking distance (.5 mile radius), and shifts and new transportation corridors.10with a transit dependent population ( The move made sense from a development>17.7% of households, or the 80th percen- perspective. Further, it was easier to buildtile in the 1990 Census). By way of compari- larger stores in the suburbs because large
  9. 9. Homeward Bound Page 9 MAP 1
  10. 10. Page 10 Homeward Boundtracts of land were still available. This en-kets. Inner city stores tend to have higherabled stores to stock more non-food items operating costs than suburban stores. Secu-with higher profit margins, increasing their rity costs, greater “shrink” (loss of productcash flow and profits. Supermarkets also due to employee theft, shoplifting, etc.),had an easier time extracting concessions greater numbers of bad checks, and high la-from expanding suburbs in need of a tax bor costs, due to frequent turnover and morebase and services for their residents. Demo- inexperienced employees, account for agraphics, development forces, shifts in trans- large percentage of the difference in operat-portation patterns and the pressures of the ing expenses. Other factors include highermarket all pushed the supermarkets to tar- real estate taxes, insurance, repair and main-get their efforts toward the suburbs. tenance to older stores, depreciation, and shopping cart loss. 11 Intra-firm logisticsWhile the industry focused its resources on make it more expensive and labor-intensivebuilding new stores in suburban locales, it to operate older inner city stores. Smaller,simultaneously began to less mechanized loadingsell or close down urban docks make for morecore markets located in or Inner city residents not complicated deliveryadjacent to low income schedules and higher la-neighborhoods. This fur- only have fewer super- bor costs. The demand forther reinforced the trend markets in their neigh- culture specific foods alsotoward increasing con- borhoods, but less food can be problematic forcentration of the super- access due to restricted standardized productmarket industry. In mixes. 12 Finally, monthlySouthern California, our transportation options. food shopping patternsresearch indicates that are uneven with pur-from 1963 to 1991, the chases concentrated to-number of chains with ward the beginning of thefour or more stores decreased from 34 to 14, month (when government benefits are dis-while the average number of stores operated tributed), resulting in greater labor sched-by each chain rose by 283%. The top four uling costs and difficulties.chains controlled 73% of the stores in 1991as compared to 43% in 1963. The acquisition Inner city stores typically experience lowerof entire chains in this process fueled the sales and profits. Because of customers’drive toward concentration in ownership, modest disposable incomes and large eld-leaving the remaining companies with erly populations which often inhabit innerheavy debt burdens. In order to generate city areas, per customer expenditures are fre-needed capital, heavily indebted chains sold quently lower than average, affecting totaloff smaller, less profitable stores, many of sales volume. Older, smaller stores have lesswhich were located in or adjacent to low shelf space to stock non-food and luxuryincome neighborhoods. items with high profit margins. As a result, profit as a percentage of sales (and on a per Location and Equity: square foot basis) tends to be substantially Issues Facing Urban Supermarkets lower than for suburban markets.13The problem of location is exacerbated by Despite an increasing concentration in own-the operating conditions of inner city mar- ership, the supermarket industry remains a
  11. 11. Homeward Bound Page 11highly competitive business with razor thin For those households without access to aprofit margins that are as low as 1%. Com- vehicle and at a lengthy distance (e.g.> 3-5petition results in lower prices, and is most miles) to a full service food market, trans-prevalent between chains in the same trade portation options are both limited and prob-areas (the geographical confines from which lematic. Transport via taxis and/or buses ormarkets draw their clientele), typically lim- paying for a ride can be costly, reducing aited to a few square miles. In inner city com- family’s food budget by up to $400 permunities however, the absence of supermar- year.17 Moreover, bus lines rarely are de-kets often translates into a lack of competi- signed to serve intra-neighborhood foodtion, as a single store may dominate a given shopping patterns, as described elsewheretrade area. Little competition combined in this Report. Instead, as in the case of onewith high operating costs and low sales vol- South Central Los Angeles community, theyume often results in higher prices for inner are planned around commuter routes, feed-city shoppers.14 This problem is exacerbated ing into downtown. 18 The recent examplesfor supermarkets in areas with low vehicle described in Section III of the Austin circu-ownership rates, which are likely to face lator route and the K-Trans route extensioneven less competition, as patron immobility in Knoxville are especially significant as ex-shrinks the trade area. ceptions to the rule.Transportation Barriers for Urban Because of the high cost of door to doorSupermarkets transportation (taxis) and the inconvenience of mass transit (long waits, multiple trans-Inner city residents not only have fewer su- fers, long walks to bus stops), carrying gro-permarkets in their neighborhoods, but less ceries home becomes a frequent occurrencefood access due to restricted transportation despite its problematic nature. In one lowoptions. Automobile ownership is less com- income neighborhood in South Central Losmon among the poor than among the non- Angeles, one third of the residents surveyedpoor. Only 22% of food stamp recipients reported difficulties carrying their groceriesdrove their own car to purchase groceries home, roughly the same number of personsas compared to 96% of non-food stamp re- without access to a vehicle.19 On a morecipients according to a USDA study.15 In the anecdotal level, a 1995 Los Angeles Times ar-majority of the 21 cities studied by the Uni- ticle profiled a young woman with two chil-versity of Connecticut’s Food Policy Market- dren riding the bus back from the supermar-ing Center, those zip codes with the fewest ket, descriptive of one of the numerous dailysupermarkets per capita also had the low- obstacles confronting transit dependent ur-est percentage of vehicle ownership. In some ban residents. The article specificallycases, such as New York City, the poorest chronicled the woman’s struggles gettingzip codes as defined by percentage of house- home while carrying several bags of grocer-holds receiving public assistance, had car ies. At the same time, shopping choices be-ownership rates of less than 40%. In the other came constrained (e.g., she had to choosecities, it hovered between 60% to 80%. By between purchasing a gallon of milk and acomparison, wealthier neighborhoods in jug of laundry detergent, given her inabil-these cities have vehicle ownership rates ity to carry both home). 20generally in excess of 95% (with the notedexception of New York). 16 As a result of the difficulties in carrying sev- eral bags of groceries long distances, many
  12. 12. Page 12 Homeward Boundinner city residents opt to “borrow” grocery In both cases, the ensuing result of reducedcarts. In some neighborhoods, removal of the purchasing power from an individual stand-carts from the premises may be so endemic point is increased hunger and reduced abil-that it results in cart shortages. Shopping cartity to purchase non-staples with greaterloss has proven to be such a problem at one price elasticity such as fruits and vegetables.East St Louis store that they are locked up Up to one billion dollars in food stamp pur-and patrons charged a quarter deposit. 21 chasing power may be lost due to higherWaits of up to 20-30 minutes for a shopping prices in inner city markets. 24 A price com-cart are not uncommon in another Austin parison in Los Angeles found that a marketmarket. 22 (Section II provides a more de- basket containing items necessary for a mini-tailed discussion of the shopping cart/food mally nutritionally adequate diet would costaccess link). a family of three $285 more per year when purchased in inner city supermarkets thanIn sum, transportation obstacles prevent in- in comparable suburban markets. 25 Whilener city residents from shopping where they supermarkets in low income neighborhoodswould like. For those households without may charge high prices (for the reasons de-access to a vehicle, distance, not price or se- scribed in the previous section), corner momlection, is the primary factor determining and pop stores’ prices are often astronomi-choice of food store.23 Food shopping be- cal. With their lack of an economy of scale,comes a question of not what one would like small stores often purchase their items atto buy, but what is available, given mobility near retail prices at “cash and carry” out-restrictions. In this context, the development lets, and must charge substantial margins onof a centralized supermarket-based food their goods. Prices at mom and pop storesdistribution system, as facilitated by the have been reported to be 42%-64% highergrowth in popular ownership of the auto- than at surrounding supermarkets. 26mobile, and in conjunction with the unre-sponsiveness of the mass transit sector to the Just as mom and pop stores must chargefood shopping-related transportation needs high margins to be economically viable, theyof the poor, has substantially diminished the must stock goods with high profit margins.food security of many inner city communi- Limited shelf and cooler space combinedties. with the costs of spoilage preclude them from carrying a full line of healthy foods and produce. Surveys of mom and pop stores HEALTH AND NUTRITIONAL have found little in the way of produce, IMPLICATIONS which, when present, includes an abun- dance of packaged processed foods, is oftenThe Small Store Syndrome of poor quality and aged, and often provides little selection of low-fat products, such asPoor food access negatively affects the health skim milk. Research of Los Angeles “momof inner city consumers through three fun- and pops” found it impossible to purchasedamental avenues. As shown above, transit a nutritionally adequate diet as defined bydependent residents often must dedicate the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan in any one orsubstantial resources to obtain transporta- combination of these stores. By way of ex-tion to and from the store, reducing funds ample, in another low income community,available for food purchases. Similarly, high only five of 38 convenience stores stockedprices reduce the buying power of the poor. the ingredients for a balanced meal. Of these
  13. 13. Homeward Bound Page 13stores, only half carried milk, while all sold typical measure of maternal nutrition. Child-alcohol.27 hood anemia, due to poor nutrition, is found in 20-33% of all black children. Heart dis-Diet and Health Consequences ease (related to saturated fat intake among other factors) is twice as common among Af-The lack of availability of healthy foods can rican Americans as among whites. Africanaggravate high rates of diet-related diseases Americans tend to suffer from obesity atto which Latinos and African Americans greater rates than among whites. Blacks also(who often are the primary demographic have higher rates of diabetes and stomachgroups in inner cities) are most vulnerable. cancer than whites. 30One of the most important outcomes of poornutrition is increased incidence of chronic Latinos suffer from higher rates of a varietydisease; studies show that 35-60% of all can- of diet related diseases than whites. Latinoscers in the US are diet-related. 28 According have three times the likelihood of contract-to a leading expert on the relationship be- ing diabetes than whites. Latinos also suffertween disease and diet among minorities: from excess incidence of cancers of the stom- ach, pancreas, esophagus, gallbladder, and Dietary factors are epidemiologically cervix, and lower rates of breast and colon linked to chronic diseases, include cancer. Obesity and higher prevalence of overconsumption of kilocalories, and cardiovascular diseases are also common fat, leading to diabetes mellitus, obe- among Latinos. 31 sity, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, excess intakes of sodium or Farmers Markets: Unrealized Opportuni- salt- cured or pickled foods-, leading ties to hypertension or stomach cancer and inadequate consumption of foods or Farmers markets can play an important role nutrients that may protect against car- in providing access to healthy foods in in- diovascular disease, cancer, or os- ner city communities. Farmers’ markets teoporosis, (e.g. vitamin A, carry fresh, high-quality produce, often caretenoids, vitamin C, picked the very day of potassium, calcium, fi- sale. They are relatively ber, and complex car- Food shopping becomes easy to establish, requir- bohydrates, fruits and a question of not what ing only a few thousand vegetables, cruciferous one would like to buy, dollars in start up costs vegetables, or beta but what is available, and perhaps 6 months to carotene rich fruits and one year lead time, as vegetables). 29 given mobility restric- compared to a new super- tions market which may re-Latinos and African- quire 2-5 years and mil-Americans in the US suf- lions of dollars in capitalfer from higher than average rates of chronic outlays. Produce is usually priced competi-disease. Poverty, lack of education, and ac- tively with or below supermarket prices,cess to health care may influence dispropor- depending upon the season and loss lead-tionate morbidity levels for many minori- ers. 32ties. African-Americans have a 110% higherrate of low birth weight infants, which is a However, farmers’ markets have not
  14. 14. Page 14 Homeward Boundemerged as a option for improving inner city bind from food system analysts, most of thefood access to high quality foods. Farmers’ analysis of the nature of transportation ser-markets, to begin with, carry only a finite vices for low income communities has beenselection of goods, such as produce, eggs, limited to the discussion of concerns aboutnuts, honey, fish, juices and jams, and equity — particularly pricing — and onlybreads. Canned and dried goods, or other tangentially to the question of access to com-manufactured foods are normally prohibited munity services, such as food shopping.from sale. They are also limited in time andspace, open only once a week for a few hours Equity issues have primarily been examineda day, when many people are at work or by evaluating the net distributional effectshave other access constraints. Moreover, of benefits and costs of transit subsidiesefforts to establish farmers’ markets in low among different income and racial/ethnicincome neighborhoods have been few and groups.33 Benefits are typically defined asnot universally successful. In Los Angeles, including the level and quality of service,while there are eight farmers markets access to transit services, and types ofin the relatively compact middle service (e.g., bus, rail, subway).and upper income Westside Costs are defined as includingneighborhoods, there are revenue sources such asonly two serving the geo- Ultimately, inner city taxes, and fares chargedgraphically more expan- transit services have per customer. Equity con-sive supermarket deficient not been oriented to- siderations also addressareas of the city. These pat- ward intra-neighbor- the allocation as well asterns have been repeated hood needs such as the types of benefits andin other urban communi- costs. While a few studiesties as well. food shopping. have pointed to certain fa- vorable distributional im- pacts on the poor, other stud- TRANSPORTATION BIASES ies that have focused on alloca- tion decisions have clearly suggested thatEquity Issues federal policies, including subsidy pay- ments, create powerful inequities in transitLow income/transit dependent communi- resource allocations which ultimately en-ties almost invariably face a double bind re- courage regressive fare pricing approachesgarding food access issues. On the one hand, which most heavily impact lower-incomeas described above, low income communi- transit riders. 34ties have fewer full service food markets,fewer farmers’ markets, higher priced food Among such inequities, the most prominentitems, and health and nutritional problems form of transit subsidy, above and beyondexacerbated by the lack of food outlets. At the historic funding of automobile-orientedthe same time, low income communities infrastructure such as the federal highwayhave fewer automobiles per capita and ulti- system, has been the federal focus on com-mately rely on transportation services that muter rail, which in turn has been the modeare often not only inconvenient but also in- used by the most affluent transit users. Byequitable in their pricing and in the way subsidizing longer distance commutes be-transportation routes are established. While tween home and work (primarily designedsome attention has been paid to this double to accommodate central business districts as
  15. 15. Homeward Bound Page 15opposed to neighborhood locations), other a dynamic effect on both the size and loca-transit operations such as inner city bus tion of food retail outlets during the post-routes tend to cross-subsidize the longer war period, most notably in the decades oftrips. As a consequence, low income and/ the 1970s and 1980s. One study, which fo-or minority riders receive fewer subsidy cused on the interaction between transpor-benefits than their more affluent, primarily tation systems and food retail distributionAnglo counterparts. This problem of un- systems in the Seattle metropolitan area,equal subsidies is further exacerbated in emphasized that supermarket trends in lo-periods of fiscal retrenchment among pub- cation and size had become most heavilylic agencies, including the federal govern- influenced by freeway location in that re-ment. When there is decreasing federal rev- gion. Thus the development of a postwarenue support for transit, combined with freeway system, the trends towardssuch factors as declining farebox revenues suburbanization, and the shift towardsand/or falling transit patronage, transit op- larger food stores requiring longer trips forerators, such as the Los Angeles Metropoli- routine food shopping became the dominanttan Transit Authority (MTA), have raised the pattern in the food retail/transit relation-fares impacting low income transit users, ships.36reinforcing rather than reversing the biastoward longer as opposed to shorter trips. The current concerns regarding food access,In the case of the MTA, this longer distance/ however, have coincided with the modesthigher fares for the poor transit bias ulti- though nevertheless significant reorienta-mately became the basis of a class action suit tion of the food retail sector toward urbanbased on Title VI of the 1994 Civil Rights inner city sites and variations in store size,Act.35 particularly in regions such as southern Cali- fornia where the availability of favorableFood Access Implications suburban sites has decreased. While freeway travel and high rates of automobile owner-The long distance/commute bias in transit ship favored suburban locations and theoperations has significant consequences in development of food stores (including theterms of food access. Food outlets within superstores) of 50,000 square feet andurban areas are primarily residential based; greater, the problems of scarce (and expen-that is, locations are determined in relation sive) land, lower rates of automobile own-to such factors as housing density, neighbor- ership and a transit system favoring longerhood demographics, and land availability distance/commute rather than communityfor such considerations as store and park- needs have created significant barriers foring lot size. Where transportation factors the development of full service food mar-come into play are those areas of lower den- kets in the inner city while increasing thesity offset by more favorable demographics problems of food access. Even in areas where(e.g., suburban locations which were respon- inner city transit systems such as bus ser-sible for much of the growth in the food re- vice have been operational, the issues oftail sector during the 1970s and 1980s). But quality of service, the routing of the bus ser-the transportation focus in these instances vice, and fare/equity considerations havehas been associated with auto use factors compounded food access concerns. Ulti-such as proximity to a freeway exit and park- mately, inner city transit services have noting lot size. Along these lines, the extension been oriented toward intra-neighborhoodof the freeways into suburban areas has had needs such as food shopping.
  16. 16. Page 16 Homeward BoundThe Promise and Limits of Paratransit and communities. A term coined in the 1970s to describe the “full spectrum of transpor-The conceptual failure in transportation tation options that fell between the privateplanning to link transit development with automobile and the conventional bus,”38community services has been most directly paratransit has come to be seen by transpor-associated with the lack of services for spe- tation planners as a more flexible, service-cific constituencies, including commuters as oriented approach that is capable of connect-well as special needs populations, such as ing multiple places with multiple publics,seniors, the disabled, and others who are not including potentially for food access consid-capable of using (as opposed to owning) an erations. By way of example, the Nationwideautomobile. New paratransit services Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS),emerged in recent years in part to fill that which evaluates travel patterns from ran-vacuum. Two of the groups that became tar- domly sampled households, indicated, in itsgeted constituencies for such services were 1990-1991 survey, that passenger vans ac-AIDS victims and seniors. During the 1980s counted for 4.7% of all motorized shoppingand 1990s, when the debilitating effects of trips, compared to less than 1% (0.8%) bythe AIDS pandemic started to become bus transit. (The survey did not account forclearer, it also became apparent that those walk-in traffic, which other estimates havewith AIDS were a prime food access/tran- placed as high as 1/4th to 1/3rd of shop-sit dependent constituency. Many AIDS vic- ping trips at inner city food markets).39tims, for example, were no longer able todrive and had major dietary concerns. AIDS Despite its promise as a flexible transit strat-service organizations in turn established a egy, and the strong indications that existingrange of paratransit services to address those paratransit programs, such as van and jit-needs and consequently emerged as a sig- ney services, have been substantially usednificant advocate for food security and for shopping purposes, the development ofgreater food access.37 At the same time, a “shopping” focus for paratransit has re-paratransit programs for seniors oriented mained minimal. Moreover, the concept oftowards such needs as shopping, food paratransit has yet to establish a specificpreparation and delivery, and health care, food access dimension (that is, transporta-were developed and expanded in this same tion strategies designed to facilitate accessperiod. Aside from these efforts, paratransit to food markets). Ultimately, the intersect-options also became linked, during the 1980s ing problems of food access and transit de-and 1990s, with the increased focus on work pendency continue to reside at the marginsrelated automobile trip reductions as a con- of or distinct from the domains of food andsequence of increased air quality regula- transportation planning.tions. Paratransit services were specificallyinitiated through employer-based commuteprograms, such as ride sharing or van com-mute programs, in response to such air qual-ity regulations as the South Coast Air Qual-ity Management District’s Regulation XV.These trends began to elevate paratransit asa promising transportation strategy, particu-larly for transit-dependent constituencies
  17. 17. Homeward Bound Page 17 ENDNOTES: SECTION 11. Food access is sometimes used as a term Advocates, January 1996; Ashman, Linda et.that serves as a surrogate for food security al. Seeds of Change: Strategies for Food Se-itself. For example, one USDA study defines curity for the Inner City. Los Angeles: UCLAaccess as “the availability of a variety of Department of Urban Planning, 1993; Sus-nutritious and affordable food from places tainable Food Center, “Access Denied: Anthat are well maintained and offer products Analysis of Problems Facing East Austinreflecting the cultural makeup of the com- Residents in Their Attempts to Obtain Af-munity. Underserved areas are those in fordable Nutritious Food.” Austin, Texas,which residents face barriers to access, such 1995; A Status Report on Hunger andas high prices, limited food choices, poor Homelessness in America’s Cities, Washing-quality products or long distances to stores ton D.C.: U.S. Conference of Mayors, Decem-or markets. This latter factor — distance to ber, 1992.a food outlet — is the key determinant (asused in this report) linking food access to 5. Access Denied, p. 11transit dependency. See “Study Fact Sheet”,Study of Access to Nutritious and Afford- 6. See Grocery Store Market Potential Study,able Food, United States Department of Ag- pp. 2-3riculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Con-ducted by CRP Inc., FY 1995-1996. 7. Seeds of Change, p. 862. Data from the 21 SMSAs reviewed were 8. “Toward Revitalizing Inner-City Foodorganized by zip code. Sources included Retailing”, Donald Marion, USDA/Eco-census data and the 1995 database from Pro- nomic Research Service, National Food Re-gressive Grocer, a food retail industry trade view, Summer 1982, No. 19, pp. 22-25publication. See, The Urban Grocery StoreGap, Ronald Cotterill and Andrew Franklin, 9. The Poor Pay More: Food Shopping inFood Marketing Policy Center, Storrs, CT: Hartford, Hartford, Ct.: Citizens ResearchUniversity of Connecticut, April 1995 Education Network, et al., February 1984. p. ii3. No Place to Shop: Challenges and Oppor-tunities Facing the Development of Super- 10. Shopping Trips and Spatial Distributionmarkets in Urban America, Washington of Food Stores, Youngbin Yim, University ofD.C.: Public Voice for Food and Health California Transportation Center WorkingPolicy, 1996 paper No. 125, Berkeley, CA: UCTC, 19934. Grocery Store Market Potential Study. Los 11. “Toward Revitalizing Inner-City FoodAngeles: RLA, October 1995; Whetten, Retailing”, p. 23Michelle. The Development of the East StLouis Farmers’ Market. Winstanley/Indus- 12. Poor Pay More, pp.8-9try Park Neighborhood Organization, EastSt Louis, IL May 1994; Improving Access to 13. See Poor Pay More, pp. 6-8; “TowardFood in Low Income Communities: An In- Revitalizing Inner-City Food Retailing”,vestigation of Three Bay Area Neighbor- pp.22-23hoods. San Francisco: California Food Policy
  18. 18. Page 18 Homeward Bound14. See, for example, price comparisons in 1992.Seeds of Change, pp. 161-166; See also, PoorPay More, p. 12; No Place to Shop, pp. 34- 29. “Diet and Chronic Disease for Minority35. populations”, Shiriki Kumanyika, Journal of Nutrition Education, 22(2) as cited in Seeds15. Store Selection by Food Stamp House- of Change, pp. 31-32hold, Paul Nelson & James Zellner, NationalFood Review, Summer, 1980, p. 24, Cited in 30. “Hispanic Health in the United States”,Obtaining Food: Shopping Constraints on Council on Scientific Affairs, JAMA, 265 (2);the Poor, Report of the U.S. Select Commit- “The Slave Health Deficit: Racism andtee on Hunger, U.S. House of Representa- Health Outcomes”, W. Michael Byrd &tives, December 1987, p. 5. Linda Clayton, Health PAC Bulletin, 199116. See The Urban Grocery Store Gap 31. “Food Sources, Dietary Behavior, and the Saturated Food Intake of Latino Children”,17. Access Denied C.E. Basch, S. Shea, and P. Zybert, Ameri- can Journal of Pediatric Health, 82 (6), June18. Seeds of Change, pp. 155-156 1992; “Hispanic Health in the United States”19. Seeds of Change, pp. 171-172 32. Interview with Marion Kalb, Southland Farmers’ Market Association, January 1996;20. “Getting There the Hard Way Every Seeds of Change, pp. 212-213Day”, Jane Gross, Los Angeles Times, July 16,1995, p. 1 33. On equity issues in transit resource allo- cation and financing, see “Equity in transit21. The Development of the East St. Louis finance: Distribution of transit subsidy ben-Farmers’ Market efits and costs among income classes”, John Pucher, American Planning Association Jour-22. Access Denied nal, 1981, 47:387-407; “Socioeconomic char- acteristics of transit riders: Some recent evi-23. Seeds of Change, p.170 dence”, John Pucher, C. Hendrickson, and S. McNeil, Traffic Quarterly, 1981, 35:461-83;24. No Place to Shop, p. 10 “Distribution of the Tax Burden of Transit Subsidies in the United States”, John Pucher25. Seeds of Change, pp. 161-165 and I. Hirschman, 1981, Public Policy, 29:341- 367; Efficiency and Equity Implications of26. Improving Access to Food in Low Income Alternative Transit Fare Policies, RobertCommunities Cervero, M. Wachs, R. Berlin, & R. Gephart, 1980, Washington: Urban Mass Transporta-27. Seeds of Change; Access Denied tion Administration.28. “Nutrition and Cancer Prevention 34. “Literature Review: Social Equity in Pub-Knowledge, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Practices: lic Transportation Finance”, Eugene Kim,the 1987 National Health interview Survey”, Working Paper, School of Public Policy andN. Cotugna, A.F. Subar, et. al, Journal of the Social Research, University of California atAmerican Dietetic Association, 92 (8), August Los Angeles, August 1995; see also “Tax Eq-
  19. 19. Homeward Bound Page 19uity and the Finance of Transit”, RobertCervero, 1983, Transportation Quarterly,37(3):379-39435. “Variations in Fare Payment and PublicSubsidy by Race and Ethnicity: An Exami-nation of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Tran-sit Authority”, Brian Taylor et al., WorkingPaper, UCLA Institute of TransportationStudies”, January 199536. Shopping Trips and Spatial Distribu-tions of Food Stores, Youngbin Yim, Work-ing Paper UCTC No. 125, Berkeley: Univer-sity of California Transportation Center,1993; also Travel Distance and Market Sizein Food Retailing, Youngbin Yim, WorkingPaper UCTC No. 124, Berkeley: Universityof California Transportation Center, July,1990; The Effects of Transportation Serviceson the Scale of Food Retailing, YoungbinYim, Working Paper No. 112, Berkeley: Uni-versity of California Transportation Center,July, 199237. Testimony of Marcy Fenton at the Hear-ings on Food Security and Hunger, Los An-geles Voluntary Advisory Council on Hun-ger, April 20, 199538. Commercial Paratransit in the UnitedStates: Service Options, Markets and Perfor-mance, Robert Cervero, University of Cali-fornia Transportation Center, Working Pa-per No. 299, Berkeley: UCTC, January 1996,p. 1139. 1990-91 Nationwide Personal Transpor-tation Survey, cited in CommercialParatransit in the United States, p. 13
  21. 21. Homeward Bound Page 21T he absence of any well developed cally in the food access area. food access framework for planning The most substantial effort to develop such or policy activity has meant a rela- an approach was a September 1995 USDAtive dearth of food access legislation as well Food Access conference hosted by the Of-as federal, state, or local agency programs. fice of Analysis and Evaluation. This twoFood planning is itself a relatively new con- day meeting brought together anti-hungercept, often segmented into distinctive and activists, supermarket executives, commu-separate constituent and policy arenas, such nity development practitioners, academics,as the federal food commodity or nutrition representatives from the financial commu-programs. Recent efforts to establish food nity, and government officials from a vari-planning initiatives at the state and local ety of agencies to explore the multi-facetedlevel, discussed below, are perhaps the most issues associated with food access in lowpromising forms of government related ac- income communities. The conference prima-tivity with the potential to address food ac- rily focused on the specific dynamics asso-cess needs. These planning initiatives, how- ciated with supermarket development, andever, are limited in scope, and at best repre- only tangentially explored other communitysent the seeds of a new type of planning pro- food security strategies such as farmers’cess capable of intervening in the food se- markets, urban agriculture, and community-curity and food access arenas. based transportation programs. The goals of the conference included:Federal Initiatives: USDA and the Commu-nity Food Security Act •Present successful strategies for increasing access to food through the development ofAt the federal level, the Department of Ag- full-line food stores and alternative meansriculture is the government agency that most such as farmers’ markets. Transportationdirectly addresses food system issues, pri- options were also noted as a potential goal;marily in terms of producer/grower relatedissues. The origins of many of the food pro- •Provide a discussion forum for experts ingrams associated with consumer needs, such supermarkets and food-store development,as the food stamp program, were primarily economic development, and food policy;linked to efforts to support farmers throughgovernment acquisition of certain surplus •Identify and support continued efforts tocommodities rather than efforts designed to link improved food access to local economicincrease the food security of program par- development.2ticipants.1 More recently, the Food and Con-sumer Service (with its focus on consumer While participation in the conference wasnutrition issues), the Agricultural Market- below USDA expectations, the conferenceing Service (with its interest in direct mar- was nevertheless significant for a numberketing strategies such as farmers’ markets), of reasons. First, it gave prominence to theand the Office of Analysis and Evaluation issue of food access within the frameworkwithin FCS (which has sponsored research of USDA. While the Office of Analysis andon issues facing low income residents, such Evaluation, the sponsor of the event, hadas food stamp recipients) have all touched contracted for a couple of studies related toon food access issues. However, none of food access, including a food security ques-these offices has established programs, tionnaire to be included in a Census Bureaugrants activities, or policy initiatives specifi- survey, it had not formally addressed the
  22. 22. Page 22 Homeward Boundissue through any program or policy.3 The local food, farm and nutrition issues. TheSeptember 1995 conference represented in- passage of the CFSA within the context ofstead a type of surrogate planning effort by massive budget cuts in nutrition and agri-a subagency to frame a complex issue that culture programs proposed by the 104thcuts across subagency and department lines Congress attests to its political appeal. Itand has no actual institutional home for any enjoyed the support of a broad range ofplanning or policy initiative. As such, the stakeholders in the food system, includingconference (and related FCS sponsored stud- family farming, anti-hunger, communityies) provided at best tentative first steps to- gardening, food banking, community devel-ward formalizing inter-agency linkages opment, and environmental organizations.4identified through the conference, with thelonger term objective of developing compre- The CFSA is especially significant for thehensive policy responses to food access de- issue of food access through a number officiencies. contexts. First, improving access to healthy foods is a core component of communityHowever, the conference also reflected the food security and to the legislative mandateinfluence of a growing national movement of the Act. A number of the proposals sub-around community food security and food mitted to the USDA under this Act duringaccess, and legitimized food access as a mat- its first funding cycle included programster of national policy significance. While designed to improve access to food for lowfollow-up activity from the conference by income communities.5 Second, as food ac-USDA (and FCS in particular) remains un- cess remains largely a local issue, with localcertain, the most likely constituency for pro- causes and local solutions, the CFSA pro-grammatic development in the food access vides a basis for funding community-basedarea are food stamp recipients, especially in strategies, such as transportation programs,terms of their purchasing power and need farmers’ markets, and community gardens.to access nutritious foods. Another arena for Finally, the CFSA establishes the validity ofpossible food access activity through USDA multi-sectoral strategies to food access prob-is the Community Food Security Act. This lems. In doing so, it provides a frameworklegislation, the outcome of an eighteen for the USDA to develop a more coordinatedmonth campaign by a wide range of food inter-agency policy approach to this issue.security advocates, may also come to repre-sent a new policy direction for the USDA State Programs: Proposals for Texas andinvolving the funding of policy-related Connecticutgrassroots projects. At the state level, most food-related pro-Recently enacted as part of the 1996 Farm grams are associated with grower-relatedBill, the Community Food Security Act activities, such as technical assistance pro-(CFSA) provides $16 million in competitive grams or agri-chemical use regulations. Thegrants to non-profit organizations over the state’s role in more “urban”-oriented anti-next seven years for food-related projects in hunger or food assistance related programslow income communities. Its stated goals are is primarily administrative in nature or in-to meet the food needs of low-income volves pass-through activities related to fed-people; increase the self reliance of commu- eral food programs.nities in providing for their own food needs;and promote comprehensive responses to One potential route for state-level food ac-
  23. 23. Homeward Bound Page 23cess planning or policy activity can be found Authority’s bond funds be used to leveragein the model legislation developed in Texas private financing of supermarkets in innerin 1995. The legislation, introduced as an cities across the state. It also called for theamendment to the Human Resources Code, Department of Transportation to create asought to establish a broad based planning pilot program that would improve food ac-and funding entity called the Texas Food cess through local transportation coordina-Security Council. The bill was passed by the tion. Despite the bill’s failure to be enactedTexas legislature in 1995, but vetoed by Gov- during the 1996 legislative session, the mea-ernor George Bush Jr.. The legislation, sure establishing a Food Security Task Forcedrafted by the Austin, Texas Sustainable was included in other legislation which wasFood Center, provided for the establishment passed and signed into law. According toof a Council composed of representatives of Mark Winne, director of the Hartford Foodstate agencies and nonprofit organizations System and a likely member of the Taskto inventory resources and develop food Force, food access and transportation willsecurity programs, in- continue to figure promi-cluding the development nently in the task force’sof “a coordinated plan to It is noteworthy that future work. 7create opportunities toincrease access to food in municipal and regional Local Initiatives: Foodlow-income communi- planning departments Policy Councilsties.” 6 While transporta- across the U.S. have fewtion/food access plan- if any functions associ- At the local level, much ofning mechanisms and/or the interest in food plan-policy initiatives were not ated with food security ning is of recent origin. Itspecifically identified in or overall food system is noteworthy that mu-the legislation, the Coun- functions. nicipal and regional plan-cil concept intended to ning departments acrossprovide a statewide entry the U.S. have few if anypoint for stimulating food functions associated withaccess activity, whether through a planning food security or overall food system func-process, pilot projects, or grants activities. tions. Most of these are handled by other de- partments, agencies, or through state or fed-Another approach, more elaborate in nature, eral programs, such as food stamp adminis-is the legislative package proposed by the tration. During 1995 and 1996, the absenceAd Hoc Task Force on Food Security of the of municipal food planning functions wasConnecticut General Assembly. This legis- further underlined by food program-relatedlation was passed by the General Assembly changes proposed in the 104th Congress,in 1996, but did not make it to a vote in the based on the devolution to the states andSenate. The legislation called for a number cities of a number of federal anti-hungerof measures, including the formation of a programs. Yet such a transfer of funds andtask force to guide the Connecticut Depart- responsibilities was being promoted at ament of Agriculture in playing a lead role point when the capacity to handle such is-for the development and implementation of sues among local and regional governmentsa food security policy for the state. In terms continued to be minimal or non-existent.of food access and transportation, it pro-posed that Connecticut Development The most visible, contemporary forms of
  24. 24. Page 24 Homeward Boundlocal food security planning have involved or administrative home for food securitythe development of Food Policy Councils planning, including food access and trans-(FPCs), or Food Policy Commissions, that portation initiatives. As described in Sectionhave been established in several different III, a number of food access/food transpor-communities and regions (e.g., Hartford, tation programs have been developed byKnoxville, St. Paul, and Toronto), and FPCs in cities like Knoxville, Tennessee andbroadly parallel the type of statewide Coun- Austin, Texas. Such programs have been de-cil established through the Texas legislation signed to meet specific neighborhood con-described above. FPC structures and activi- cerns (e.g., access to a supermarket) ratherties have varied. The two most prevalent than through an overall planning and evalu-models are municipal/government-based ation process. Beyond those programs, theentities and non-profit organizations. FPC efforts to design an FPC in Los Angeles, de-roles also vary, whether in terms of policy scribed in Section IV, identifies one possibledevelopment or program implemen- model for food security and foodtation, or whether they serve as access planning.catalyst or facilitator. All,however, have sought to T R A N S P O RTAT I O Nconstruct a comprehen- SERVICES AND PRO-sive approach to agricul- Despite their system-wide GRAMSture and food related focus, however, Foodproblems. 8 Policy Councils and com- Federal Programs munity food planning ef-Food Policy Councils forts have tended to remain Within the world ofhave generally sought transportation plan- marginalized effortsto focus on the multiple ning, the focus on foodpathways of the food sys- access has been, at best,tem, including both urban a stepchild to the largerfood security concerns such emphasis on commutingas hunger, nutrition, access, and vehicle mobility. Wherecommunity development, and ur- available, links between federalban agriculture opportunities, as well as transportation policies and local programsgrower-related considerations such as direct and food access for inner city transit depen-marketing. Despite their system-wide focus, dent residents are primarily found in an adhowever, Food Policy Councils and commu- hoc assortment of services which attempt tonity food planning efforts have tended to re- meet the intra-neighborhood needs of com-main marginalized efforts at advocacy and munities. These paratransit services tend tointervention, primarily due to a lack of funds comprise the workhorses of such transit sys-and institutional support. Even organiza- tems. Such programs, which most often in-tions established within municipal govern- clude the use of vans, taxis, carpools, andments have suffered from limited resources, jitneys, are well suited to enhancing mobil-due to tight government budgets, jurisdic- ity for food shoppers, given their ability totional issues, and the problem of institu- respond flexibly to variations in travel de-tional autonomy.9 mand as well as route, and their generally low capital and operating costs with respectFPCs, nevertheless, represent a potential re- to conventional transit.10gion-wide or municipal organizational and/
  25. 25. Homeward Bound Page 25While no federal transportation policies deal tation Enhancement Act of 1991, a complexexplicitly with the issue of food access or of piece of legislation that seeks to take intothe servicing of intra-neighborhood needs, account land use considerations and theirthe 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation relationship to different transportationEnhancement Act (ISTEA) and the 1990 modes. The legislation authorizes the ex-Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) do penditure of $155 billion over six years for acreate certain opportunities for addressing wide range of programs ranging from high-these issues. The ADA, which includes a set way construction and environmental im-of detailed regulations for both private and provements such as stormwater mitigationpublic entities, specifies, among other pro- to “transportation demand management”,visions, that transportation vehicles and fa- the area in which support for paratransitcilities be made accessible for those who use programs can be located. Within that con-wheelchairs. Creating this legislative focus text of program support, mobility (e.g., re-on access, moreover, has also brought atten- duced congestion) remains ISTEA’s primarytion to the disabled as a transit dependent measurement of success. Transportationpopulation, including this population’s sig- control measures for reducing traffic conges-nificant concerns about food access. Those tion and achieving air quality standards areprograms and services that were ultimately also prominent.11developed as a direct or indirect result ofADA, however, have remained tailored to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (suchthis specific constituency. as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in Los Angeles) are given great flexibility inISTEA setting funding priorities, within broad cat- egories. For example, in Los Angeles, whileWithout a direct constituency focus as with the MTA has employed ISTEA funds for railthe ADA, ISTEA nevertheless provides pos- projects, it has also made funding availablesible funding for a wide range of urban for the transportation demand managementtransportation programs, a few of which also (TDM) programs that are the primary routehave the potential to address food shopping for food access initiatives. TDM guidelines,needs. The proposed ISTEA legislation in a 1995-96 MTA application package, al-evolved as the National Interstate and De- low for such projects as “innovative shuttlefense Highway Program was winding down services... that serve a variety of needs andin the late 1980s, and the principal transpor- that have new or innovative features. Suchtation policy thrust among legislators and projects may serve multi-modal transporta-transportation planners focused on urban tion centers, community based needs, andcongestion issues. A strategic planning pro- community based purposes”.12 However,cess, including 65 public forums across the despite its potential applicability, ISTEAcountry, was initiated through the Transpor- funding for food access planning or pro-tation 2020 Task Force. The Task Force’s fi- grams has yet to be pursued, a function innal recommendations included more fund- part of the lack of interaction and functionaling for surface transportation and increased separation between food or human serviceattention to land use and environmental con- and transportation policy.siderations that were also embedded in the1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. That plan-ning and political process contributed to thedrafting of the Intermodal Surface Transpor-
  26. 26. Page 26 Homeward BoundLocal Programs: Los Angeles and Cam- as well as planning their routes, developedbridge in consultation with community leaders. In- terestingly, the DASH shuttles are fundedIn Los Angeles, most of the paratransit ini- with sales tax receipts rather than federaltiatives established through the City of Los monies, because of DOT concern that thereAngeles Transportation Department, under are “too many strings attached” associatedthe heading of the city’s Community Tran- with union approval of expenditures.sit Program, are targeted toward elderly and Okazaki also noted that the DASH shuttlesdisabled clients, and establish no direct food represent a cost efficient means of transpor-access/transit dependency relationship. tation, receiving a one dollar subsidy per(See Chart 1.) The City’s Dial-a-ride pro- passenger, as compared to over $30 for railgram, for example, provides shared rides to passengers, and a comparable amount forthe elderly and disabled in lift-equipped the city’s dial-a-ride curb to curb service forvans. Fares are subsidized, typically cost- the elderly.ing 2 scrip vouchers (60 vouchers may bepurchased quarterly for $12, or $7 for low Recently surveyed Midtown and Crenshawincome individuals). Recent data suggests DASH riders cited price and convenience asmoderate usage for an undifferentiated their primary reasons for riding DASH. Rid-“shopping” category and for “nutrition” ers referred to bus stop distances from homepurposes. For December, 1995, the “shop- and/or travel destination as well as timeping” category comprises from 0-10% of factors (upwards of 45 minutes or more fortotal rides in the different geographical ar- short distance trips) on a RTD bus. Theeas of the City. Interestingly, trips for “nu- DASH service travel time within each com-trition,” presumably to congregate meals for munity, on the other hand, was estimated atthe elderly, comprise up to 41% of total rides less than 20 minutes, while the cost for theduring the same period (which is also the service was a dollar less than RTD. Tripshighest in the low income South Central were scattered among a variety of purposes,area).13 Shopping is apparently limited by the most common being work or school.space constraints; the service restricts pa- Grocery shopping was cited by 8% and 7%trons to three grocery bags per trip, and does respectively, of the riders.15not allow shopping carts on the vehicle.14 The development of the “smart shuttle” alsoFor the general public, however, the City represents another possible direction towarddoes operate DASH shuttles in 16 targeted facilitating food access in Los Angeles. Acommunities. These circulator routes cost 25 generic term for a wide range of servicescents, operate in clockwise and counter- with flexible routes driven by customer de-clockwise directions, and are designed to mand, and advanced technologies such asfacilitate non-commuter needs, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and com-medical appointments, shopping trips, etc. puter dispatching, the smart shuttle oper-According to Chief of Transit James Okazaki, ates akin to a taxi, and will be operated pri-the DASH program was established to ad- vately. The City of Los Angeles Transporta-dress concerns about conventional transit’s tion Department has put out requests forhigh price and inconvenience for local in- proposals on the operation of a two yeartra-neighborhood trips. Community resi- demonstration project in the high density,dents from different areas of the city played low income immigrant neighborhood ofa crucial role in advocating for these shuttles Westlake. According to MTA planner Scott
  27. 27. Homeward Bound Page 27Green, this service will cost 75 cents, (25 eas within the city’s boundaries withoutcents for a transfer), and take riders to any proximity to a full service market. In 1991,location of their choice within a defined ser- an advisory “Food Policy Referendum” wasvice area, with an approximate 1.5 mile ra- held in the Cambridge Township that calleddius. The shuttle will be able to operate on for the city to establish food access as anarrow streets that conventional transit is citywide priority. While the referendum didnot capable of entering, increasing accessi- not specifically direct any policy or agencybility for individuals who have limited mo- activity, with 80% of the voters voting inbility. The project will be heavily subsidized support of a food access approach, electedwith local funding in its first two years, and officials and municipal agencies quickly el-then will have to operate as an entrepreneur- evated food access, and specifically newial activity, free of subsidies. Future MTA supermarket development, to the top of theplans incorporate the construction of a new public agenda.supermarket adjacent to the recently con-structed Red Line subway station, which the In December 1994, the Community Devel-smart shuttle could help service.16 opment Department issued a Report to the Cambridge City Council that focused onInterestingly, Tom Connor, the deputy gen- how the city itself could become part of aeral manager of the city of Los Angeles’ process of ensuring “adequate access” forTransportation Department was not famil- all Cambridge residents to full-service mar-iar with any food transportation program kets”, as well as identifying alternativeinvolving the use of paratransit services such methods of providing access to food.18 Theas vans, by either the city or by food stores.17 Report defined supermarket access in termsHowever, MTA planner Scott Green did of “walking radius” (identified as one halfmention that after the 1992 civil disturbances mile or less) rather than “driving radius”RTD established special routes to help resi- (defined as two miles or less). Cambridge,dents of impacted areas get to supermarkets. like a number of other eastern seaboard cit-Entitled Operation Foodbasket, this project, ies, had a significant percentage of house-no longer in existence, is noteworthy in that holds without vehicle ownership, thoughit was defined within the context of emer- transit dependency concerns were mediatedgency/natural disaster planning. By subse- in part by the fact that Cambridge is a pe-quently eliminating the program, it further destrian-oriented city with an extensive pub-indicated the lack of any food access frame- lic transportation system. Given the highwork in the ongoing transportation plan- percentage of walk-in shoppers, the issue ofning and implementation process. Food ac- supermarket proximity was particularly sig-cess became a concern as a result of a large- nificant.scale social upheaval, not as a day-to-dayproblem. The CDD Report both provided information to inform an access approach while callingIn Cambridge, Massachusetts, food access for a series of public initiated activities de-issues have been directly linked to commu- signed to address the access problem. Thesenity concerns about the lack of nearby su- included: a site analysis of possible super-permarkets in specific Cambridge neighbor- market locations as defined by food accesshoods. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, considerations; regulatory interventions,two Cambridge area supermarkets closed such as permitting waivers or zoning ap-down, leaving significant neighborhood ar- proaches to facilitate the siting of supermar-
  28. 28. Page 28 Homeward Boundkets; and the development of special grocery market’s customer base; access-sponsoredstore regulations, transfer of development programs, in turn can enhance a market’srights, and exemptions regarding store size community good will, a crucial concern forin areas where there were retail limits.19 a customer based industry. Access-related problems may also be reflected in other ad-The Cambridge situation is also of interest ditional costs, notably the loss of shoppinginsofar as a community-based political ac- carts and the threat of impoundment chargestion (the advisory referendum) in response from municipalities. The ability to addressto a food access concern (supermarket de- access concerns for supermarkets (and theparture) resulted in a set of municipal ac- food retail sector as a whole), then, repre-tions, which included a broad-based analy- sents both a business opportunity and asis and review, a set of recommended ac- competitive advantage.tions, and the beginnings of a public pro-cess to support for food access initiatives. Yet, similar to the absence of food access re- lated planning among transportation andToday, transportation planning’s nexus to other public agencies, the food retail indus-food access is often limited to a discussion try has not developed a consistent or sys-of bus stop location and routing in terms of tematic program to meet customer transpor-shopping centers, rather than a more com- tation needs. “There is no organized discus-munity-based approach to helping connect sion within the food retail industry aboutthe transit dependent with food retailers. But transportation approaches”, according to aas the Cambridge situation reveals and staff member of the California Grocer’s As-ISTEA legislation suggests, an integration of sociation, an absence that is also reflected intransportation and food access planning re- trade publications and program initiatives.20mains a viable option at both the legislative For example, the Food Marketing Institute’sand agency level. “Urban Initiatives Task Force” established in the wake of the Los Angeles civil disor- ders of May 1992, was specifically chargedFOOD RETAIL SECTOR APPROACHES with “recommending ways for the super- market industry to broaden and strengthenIndustry Attitudes its participation in neglected communities while serving the FMI membership”. 21The food retail industry has played a sig- These recommendations included programnificant role in both contributing to and be- initiatives in such areas as education, jobing impacted by access related issues. This training, mentoring, and store development,study has elaborated how supermarket lo- but not specifically access or transportationcation decisions have exacerbated transpor- needs. Other FMI publications listing super-tation concerns of residents in areas with market initiatives in “underserved commu-lower than average vehicle ownership who nities” have failed to include any transpor-need to travel longer distances to use full tation or access-related programs.22 Simi-service food markets. At the same time, the larly, an awards program of FMI and thesupermarket industry in particular has come National League of Cities that highlightedto recognize that “inner city” locations to- seventeen different successful collaborativeday represent a relatively undeveloped mar- programs between communities and super-ket for a highly competitive industry. Im- markets, listed only one transportation-re-proved access could potentially expand a lated program, a shuttle service sponsored
  29. 29. Homeward Bound Page 29by the Kroger Co. in the city of Savannah, The divorce of “access needs” from “com-Georgia. Even when food retail chains have munity function” is noteworthy for an in-established transportation programs, they dustry that is so heavily place-based andhave been employee rather than customer- customer-oriented in its economic or mar-based. In Southern California, for example, ket share considerations. Where a store isthe Vons company, influenced in part by lo- located is considered to have direct bearingcal air quality regulations, purchased two on how to attract customers to a store, andvans through CalTrans grant funds to pro- vice versa. At the same time, availability ofvide a rideshare/van service program for land (influenced significantly by parkingemployees. Although the vans were not in requirements which in turn elevates caruse during non-commute down times, Vons transport as the primary if not exclusivedecided against any customer shuttle pro- transport factor to be considered) representsgram because of possible additional insur- a major barrier to supermarket developmentance costs.23 in inner city areas, according to the FMI Ur- ban Initiatives TaskDiscussions with — and Force.25 At the same time,presentations by — food The divorce of “access the customer focus tendsretail industry executives needs” from “commu- to be linked to productreveal a similar lack of nity function” is note- availability and differen-organized response to tiation, often tailored totransportation and access worthy for an industry customer demographics.questions. Former Lucky that is so heavily place- Inner city stores, despiteStores executive vice based and customer-ori- lower than average ve-president John Benner, in ented in its economic or hicle ownership and aa presentation at the 1995 pattern of increased walk-California Grocer’s Asso- market share consider- in traffic, have tended tociation annual meeting, ations. be focused more on crimedetailed a range of food (e.g., by making parkingsecurity and anti-hunger lots safer) than access.initiatives that could be undertaken by su- Walk-in customers, in turn, have become thepermarkets in recognition of the “commu- prime constituency for the use of shoppingnity” role of the industry. Such initiatives carts, given the absence of any defined trans-included product donations to food pantries portation approach at the inner city store.and food banks (e.g., damaged cans, unsold Ultimately, the use and disposal of shoppingproduce), financial contributions to anti- carts becomes, as one food retail executivehunger organizations through shopper re- put it, a substitution for a store-based trans-ceipts and other charitable donations, and portation program. 26educational materials made available atstore sites. Access and transportation initia- Shopping Cart Loss As A Food Accesstives, however, were not included.24 In that Proxycontext, a “community” role is defined asthe broad social responsibilities of the busi- For the food retail industry, shopping cartness rather than reorienting or restructuring loss has emerged as a major financial bur-the activities of the business to address com- den and highly sensitive policy question.munity needs. Cart loss in turn has been directly linked to transportation and access issues; i.e., cart
  30. 30. Page 30 Homeward Boundlosses tend to be greatest at stores located in dependent contractor for a Los Angeles-communities with lower than average based Shopping Cart Service esti-vehicle ownership. The financial mated that he alone retrievedimpact of cart losses is clearly about 200 to 250 carts a day,a significant expense for and that as many as onefood retailers. The replace- Cart loss and re- fourth of some store’s cartsment cost of a single cart trieval costs could might be taken off siteruns between $60 and during a shopping day.$120, depending on cart amount to upwards The City of Inglewood,size. More than a dozen of $67,000 a year in with a population ofcities in California also some inner city 114,000 as well as 19 smallhave shopping cart im- stores. to medium size indepen-poundment laws that con- dent food stores and gen-tribute to the costs and poten- eral merchandise stores, es-tial liabilities for supermarkets. timated that as many as 400-500Where impoundment laws exist, a shopping carts are removed fromfood store can be charged for each cart re- Inglewood stores and abandoned on citytrieval, with charges in California ranging streets each day, with figures increasingfrom as low as $4 to as high as $25 a cart. during periods of holiday shopping. As an- other example, A-State Kart Kleen, a Mesa,Many supermarkets contract with private Arizona-based cart retrieval company, withcart recovery or retrieval services to locate a staff of nine “retrievers”, picks up an av-missing carts, and, in some cases, have es- erage of 900 carts a day in the Phoenix area.tablished their own Shopping Cart Retrieval A-State Kart Kleen’s largest customer, a foodService which in turn pays independent con- chain with 16 stores, many of which oper-tractors to retrieve carts. Payments for re- ate in low income, transit-dependent com-trieved carts also vary, both in terms of the munities, alone loses 700 carts a day. Anothercost per load and the cost per cart (depend- Southern California food store executive es-ing on the size of the load), although cumu- timated that the Food-for-Less chain (nowlative payments can be substantial in areas merged with Ralphs) made upwards of fif-where the number of carts taken off the store teen cart retrieval trips per day, and that cartpremises might run as high as 10% or more loss and retrieval costs could amount to up-of the carts in use. 27 In 1992, FMI estimated wards of $67,000 a year in some inner citythat the grocery industry lost 1.85 million stores. 29carts, including a loss of 190,000 carts in cardependent southern California. The Califor- There is widespread recognition both insidenia Grocer’s Association has estimated that and outside the food retail industry that cart750,000 carts are taken from stores in Cali- loss is a direct outcome of lack of transpor-fornia, with losses about $17 million a year, tation. “Carts go AWOL because they areand $9 million a year in Southern California used as wheels for folks who don’t havealone. The cart retrieval business, though cars”, according to a Forbes article on the is-often operating as a kind of fly-by-night sue, a sentiment widely shared by cart re-operation, has nevertheless, according to trievers who are constantly seeking to iden-Forbes magazine, come to represent a $12 tify neighborhoods where the highest num-million market, partly a reflection of the high ber of abandoned carts may be located. Ac-volume and expense of cart loss.28 One in- cording to a Public Voice report on urban