Understanding Access to Grcoery Stores in Food Deserts in Baltimore City


As American cities have seen a change in land uses in urban areas, with stores moving to suburban areas increasing the reliance on cars, many urban areas are left with a lack of accessible quality food options. These "food desert" locations, where residents lack both access and sufficient economic resources to purchase healthy food, result in health disparities for residents in these communities. Decades of population loss in Baltimore have resulted in nearly one in four residents living in food deserts. The objective of this project is two-fold: (1) determine a food desert score or metric that takes into account public transportation access as well as vehicle ownership and (2) understand how people who live in food deserts access grocery stores.

Universities and Sponsoring Organizations Involved

Morgan State University

Principal Investigators

Dr. Celeste Chavis, Anita Jones

Funding Sources and Amounts (Split By Organization and Type of Funding)

U.S. DOT $59,959; Match, $30,958

Start Date

June 1, 2017

Completion Date

June 30, 2018

Expected Impacts

Past studies have shown that disparities in supermarket access adversely affect minority and low-income communities. A better understanding of the ways in which individuals living in food deserts access grocery store options is paramount in determining how to address these disparities. This study not only informs policymakers about the ways in which lack of access affects residents, but it can also provide recommendations to increase access, such as grocery store siting and shuttle and transit service needs for closing these gaps.