Food Access

Consumer choices about food spending and diet are likely to be influenced by the accessibility and affordability of food retailers—travel time to shopping, availability of healthy foods, and food prices.  Some people and places, especially those with low income, may face greater barriers in accessing healthy and affordable food retailers, which may negatively affect diet and food security. 

ERS is a national leader in measuring the people and places facing barriers to accessing healthy and affordable food and conducts research examining the consequences of food access limitations on food spending, diet, and health. See:

Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food-Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences: Report to Congress

ERS conducts economic analyses of:

  • the extent and characteristics of people and places that lack access to healthy and affordable foods, and
  • the relationships between food access and food shopping and spending patterns, diet and health.

ERS also provides publicly available mapping tools for indicators of the food environment that allow users to create maps and download data—the Food Environment Atlas and the Food Access Research Atlas.