Monday, July 19, 2010

Can Neighborhood Grocery Impact Health?

Earlier this month, it was announced that Pittsburgh's Hill District would be getting its first full-service grocery store in nearly 30 years.
As a result, the Hill district neighborhood will be the focus of a RAND Corporation study to examine how a full-service grocery store can influence the health of residents in that community.
RAND, which is partnering with the Hill House Association, received a $2.7 million grant for the 5 year study to determine how access to a full-service grocery affects food purchasing and diet in a neighborhood.
RAND policy researcher Tamara Dubowitz will lead the study of 1,000 households in the Hill District. They will conduct research before the store opens and after. Dubowitz says they won't just look at what people are eating "but also what will change in 3 important areas: looking at the availability, price and shelf space of healthy foods; the shopping behaviors of local residents; and, the health and well-being of local residents."
RAND will hire 15 field data collectors and a full-time field coordinator to interview Hill residents and a field office will be located on the Hill House campus.
Victor Roque, president of the Hill House Association, says the study will serve as "a national model for understanding the health benefits of residents in urban communities having access to a full-service grocer."
Dubowitz says they're trying to address the issue of "food deserts," places without easy access to affordable, healthy food..."can we invest in full-service grocery stores and will that make a difference, a cost-effective difference? I think we'll be able to answer that with a lot of confidence in 5 years."

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