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cultural appropriateness of foods

Access to a supermarket or large grocery store is a problem for a small percentage of households. Results indicate that some consumers are constrained in their ability to access affordable nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and do not have easy access to transportation. Three pieces of evidence corroborate this conclusion: • Of all households in the United States, 2.3 million, or 2.2 percent, live more than a mile from a supermarket and do not have access to a vehicle. An additional 3.4 million households, or 3.2 percent of all households, live between one-half to 1 mile and do not have access to a vehicle. • Area-based measures of access show that 23.5 million people live in low-income areas (areas where more than 40 percent of the population has income at or below 200 percent of Federal poverty thresholds) that are more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. However, not all of these 23.5 million people have low income. If estimates are restricted to consider only low-income people in low-income areas, then 11.5 million people, or 4.1 percent of the total U.S. population, live in low-income areas more than 1 mile from a supermarket. • Data on time use and travel mode show that people living in low-income areas with limited access spend signifi cantly more time (19.5 minutes) traveling to a grocery store than the national average (15 minutes). However, 93 percent of those who live in low-income areas with iv Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences United States Department of Agriculture limited access traveled to the grocery store in a vehicle they or another household member drove. These distance and time-based measures are national estimates that do not consider differences between rural and urban areas in terms of distance, travel patterns, and retail market coverage. Urban core areas with limited food access are characterized by higher levels of racial segregation and greater income inequality. In small-town and rural areas with limited food access, the lack of transportation infrastructure is the most defi ning characteristic. These area- or distance-based results are in line with a nationally representative survey of U.S. households conducted in 2001. Responses to direct questions about food access show that nearly 6 percent of all U.S. households did not always have the food they wanted or needed because of access-related problems. More than half of these households also lacked enough money for food. It is unclear whether food access or income constraints were relatively greater barriers for these households.