University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Bridging the Gap: Do Farmers’ Markets Help Alleviate Impacts of Food Deserts? Final Report

Pressures of the globalized food system have left communities and individuals in precarious situations in which nutritious and accessible food is not a given. Research has begun to suggest that relocalization efforts will not necessarily alleviate these trends without directed efforts to produce exchanges that enhance both food and farm security. Existing research in the area of food deserts and Community Food Security lacks significant empirical, spatially relevant support for developing a sound understanding of the variation in effectiveness of federal food assistance programs in relation to local food systems. This research begins to fill this void by first establishing the traditionally conceived food desert estimation for Washington State using grocery store location and census demographic data, followed by an expansion using farmers’ markets. Findings suggest substantial variation in the amount of food benefits redeemed at each market based on whether the market is in an UA, UC, or a rural location. Markets in urbanized areas took in over $655,000 dollars combined in WIC FMNP vouchers, while UC markets took in roughly $124,000, and rural markets $9,000.


Food & Nutrition, Food & Nutrition General, Place, Spatial Mismatch