Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Social Work

First Advisor

Saunders, Jeanne

First Committee Member

Gilster, Megan

Second Committee Member

Landsman, Miriam

Third Committee Member

Baquero, Barbara

Fourth Committee Member

Conrad-Hiebner, Aislinn


Healthy food store availability is by no means equitable, that is supermarkets and supercenters are not located nearby for certain populations. Shopping at healthy food stores is important, as dietary intake is associated with adverse health outcomes, which disproportionally affects racial and ethnic minorities. Yet rural areas and disadvantaged neighborhoods—low income or predominantly racial/ethnic minority compositions—have few healthy food store options available near home. Thus residents must use more resources to access them or make do with what is available close by. However, little is known about the characteristics associated with shopping at healthy food stores or shopping near home. Thus the purpose of this study was to examine predictors of shopping at healthy food stores and shopping within increasing distances from home.

This study used data from the USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) which asked about household food purchasing behaviors. The FoodAPS data set was used to conduct a secondary data analysis of US households (N = 4,826) that was a nationally representative sample. A series of multilevel logistic regression models were conducted to examine the four research questions guiding this study. The four questions examined predictors of: (1) shopping at a healthy food store, (2) shopping at a healthy food store among rural and suburban respondents, (3) shopping within increasing distances from home, and (4) shopping within increasing distances from home among healthy food store shoppers.

Results indicated that Hispanic/Latino and other racial/ethnic minority, the distance of travel to the store, and the number of food stores available within 5.0 miles were negatively associated with shopping at a healthy food store. In addition, among rural and urban/suburban respondents had differing predictors of shopping at a healthy food store. Predictors of shopping within increasing distances from home included car to store and living in rural areas. Respondents who used a car as the transportation to the store were less likely to shop within 2.0 miles of home or less. Not surprisingly, rural respondents were also less likely to shop within 5.0 miles of home or less. Several control variables were significant predictors of shopping within increasing distances from home which were unexpected.

Results in some instances were surprising and contradictory to findings from past studies. Thus these results are discussed and are compared and contrasted with past studies. The results of this study have practice implications for social workers. Social work practitioners working with individuals can advocate for improving client access in their communities by improving and introducing programming whose goal is to connect people to food resources. Social workers engaged in policy efforts can work at the local, state, and national levels by working in multidisciplinary groups to improve existing programs and prioritize funding that improves issues of equality. While this study examined predictors among a nationally representative sample, it is important for future research to look at differences specifically among age groups, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural residents.


Buffers, Food Environment, Food Store Access, Food Store Shopping, Social Justice


xiv, 192 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 157-175).


Copyright © 2018 Cristian L. Meier