Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Assessing the Proximity of Healthy Food Options and Food Deserts in a Rural Area in Maine


The purpose of the project described in this paper was to assess and describe the food environment facing public assistance clients in a rural county in Maine. Using the concept of a "food desert" and an objective tool for rating participating food outlets, the research team developed a spatial model of client access to healthy foods. The final map shows that most rural residents are within acceptable distances of well-rated stores, though these may not be supermarkets. Research Highlights: "Food Deserts" are defined by distance to supermarkets as sources of healthy food. Stores of all types can be objectively rated for fresh, reasonably priced healthy food. Food deserts re-assessed through ratings may not be true deserts. Information campaigns based on ratings can identify local places and foods to meet consumer needs

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Publish Date: 
October 22, 2010

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