East St. Louis Community Food Security Assessment May 2010
Janet Broughton and Laura Lawson East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract East St. Louis is high at risk for food insecurity, as shown by analysis of community socioeconomic and demographic characteristics; food availability, accessibility, and affordability; and food production resources. A community food security assessment, begun in this work, provides a good first step in the resolution of food insecurity. However, further work is needed to illuminate the specifics of food security related problems and inform what actions should be taken to best improve food security in East St. Louis. Now is the perfect time for East St. Louis to begin addressing food security by being a voice for the Metro East region in the newly formed St. Louis Food Policy Council and by connecting to mounting concerns about the way food is grown, purchased, and consumed in our country.
Table of Contents Introduction Methods Socioeconomic and Demographic Characteristics Profile of Community Food Resources Assessment of Household Food Security Assessment of Food Resource Accessibility Assessment of Food Availability and Affordability Assessment of Food Production Resources Works Cited
2 3 4 10 15 15 18 19 20
Get Involved! If you are interested in working to ensure community food security in East St. Louis, please see Healthy Youth Partnershipâ€™s Food Policy Council Page (http://healthyyouthpartnership.org/site/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=308&Itemid=155) to get involved with food security work in the St. Louis region. If you are interested studying community food security, please see the Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit (http://www.ers.usda. gov/Publications/EFAN02013/) for the steps to complete a community food security assessment. 1
The Importance of Food Security An individual who is food secure has access to enough food to lead an active, healthy life without needing to depend on emergency food sources. Though it seems strange that hunger should exist in the United States, a 2007 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that 11.1% of households were not food secure, and about a third of those households contained individuals who had experienced physical hunger at some point during the year due to a lack of food (Nord, Andrews and Carlson 2008). Food insecurity has potential not only to cause hunger and strife for a household, but also to hinder development and scholastic success of children, reduce productivity and potential earnings for adults, and to cause serious health problems due to diet-related diseases which can potentially lead to disability or premature death. By dually lowering potential and diverting resources that could be used for food instead toward healthcare or other costs, experiencing food insecurity feeds back into itself, making it more difficult to acquire the resources to become food secure (Cohen 2002).
Local and State-Level Food Security Measurement in the United States The definitions of food security and insecurity used by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. government were developed by the Life Sciences Research Office of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: Food Security: “Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum: (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies.”
Food Insecurity: “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Some studies define households experiencing the worst food insecurity as having “Very low food security” (Nord, Andrews and Carlson 2008): Very Low Food Security: Occurs when “The food intake of one or more adults was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food.” These definitions have been used by the Food and Nutrition Service to prepare a survey methodology for state and local researchers to assess food security at a household level. This type of assessment focuses on food insecurity and hunger resulting from a lack of financial resources. (Bickel, et al. 2000)
Household Food Security vs. Community Food Security The household has been the traditional unit for food security measurement. However, using the community as a unit is a relatively new, alternative method. There is not yet a universally accepted definition of community food security, however, Hamm and Bellows put forth the following definition: Community Food Security: “…a situation in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.” (Bellows 2003) Community food security differs from measuring food security on a household basis because it allows for holistic analysis of the entire community food system. This type of measurement comes from the ideas of the community food security movement, born from the collaboration of farmers, ranchers, anti-hunger activists, nutritionists, environmentalists, public health educators, and city planners (Jacobson
2007). This movement’s vision is to reverse the food insecurity feedback cycle and replace it with a sustainable community food system that feeds back into itself to enhance the community: Community Food System: “A collaborative effort to build more locally based, self reliant food economies–one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular region.” (Feenstra 2002) The Economic Research Service of the USDA funded the development of a document to help communities assess their community food security, the “Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit.” The toolkit describes communities with potential food insecurity: Community Food Insecurity: Communities may be considered to be food insecure if there are inadequate resources from which people can purchase foods; the available food purchasing resources are not accessible to all community members; the food available is not competitively priced and thus is not affordable to all households; there are inadequate food assistance resources to help low-income people purchase foods at retail markets; there are no local food production resources; locally produced food is not available to community members; there is no support for local production resources; or there is any significant household food insecurity within the community.
Information about these other assessments can be found in the toolkit and “What’s cooking in your food system? A guide to community food assessment” (Cohen 2002), (Pothukuchi, Joseph and Burton 2002).
Methods Data collection for the community food security assessment is guided by the “Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit,” a publication prepared by IQ Solutions, Inc for the USDA. The toolkit provides a tested methodology whose results can be compared with and serve as a resource to other communities. Further information about data collection and analysis is provided within each section. The toolkit is broken down into the six sections following: 1. Socioeconomic and Demographic Characteristics (page 4) 2. Profile of Community Food Resources 3. Assessment of Household Food Security 4. Assessment of Food Resource Accessibility 5. Assessment of Food Availability and Affordability 6. Assessment of Food Production Resources
Community Food Security Assessment The “Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit” gives information sources and methodologies to gauge a community’s ability to meet the food needs of its residents. This sort of assessment can be beneficial by creating an understanding of the food system, showing what can be done to improve it, and showing how actions have changed the system if a series of assessments are done. This type of assessment has been done in other communities across the country. 3
Socioeconomic and Demographic Characteristics
Nord, Andrews, and Carlson show in Household Food Security in the United States that households at or below the national poverty level experience higher than average rates of food insecurity. Their data come from a special supplement to the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007.
This section presents data suggested by the “Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit” (Cohen 2002). The USDA studies “Household Food Security in the United States” (2008) and “SocioEconomic Determinants of Food Insecurity in the United States” (1998) as well as “Food Insecurity and Disability: Do Economic Resources Matter?” (Huang, Guo and Kim 2010) provide information on groups who experience elevated levels of food insecurity. This gives focus to socioeconomic and demographic investigation suggested by the toolkit and also guides the additional study of home ownership, educational attainment, and disability. The pamphlet “Healthy Eating: Access Makes a Difference” influenced the addition of fruit and vegetable consumption to this section. Data are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2008 American Community Survey and the 2000 Census with the exception of data for fruit and vegetable consumption, which comes from the 2007 or 2006-2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Survelliance System survey of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Additionally, each chart cites from which study the information is taken. Government and academic publications, government websites, and interviews with community members provide information on how the characteristics contribute to food security and enable speculation on what the data means for East St. Louis residents. Below are graphic displays of each of the characteristics related to elevated levels of food insecurity for East St. Louis. For comparison, statistics for the City of East St. Louis, the State of Illinois, and the United States are shown.
The U.S. Census Bureau calculates poverty for families and individuals by comparing income over the previous 12 months to one of 48 possible geographically consistent poverty thresholds. The thresholds are updated annually for inflation using the Price Index for All Urban Consumers and were originally developed from 1963 to 1964 (U.S. Census Bureau 2009). The income threshold under which a family is determined to be in poverty depends on the number of members in the family, the age of the householder for certain families, and how many family members are children. The U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds for 2008 range from $10,326 (for one person over the age of 65 living alone) up to $47,915 for a family of nine or more people with one child (U.S. Census Bureau 2009). If a family is determined to be in poverty, every member of the family is considered in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau 2008). Poverty has a direct effect on food security since food insecurity results from insufficient resources. Rose, Gunderson, and Oliveira also note that insufficient resources may prevent a household from being able to afford transportation to a food store (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998). Nord et al. found that 39.9% of households whose income falls underneath the poverty threshold are food insecure, 14.9% of whom have very low food security. However, it is not just those households who fall under the poverty threshold who have increased risk of food insecurity. The study also found that 28.7% of households with a household-income-to-poverty-threshold ratio of 1.85 (that is, whose household income is 185% the poverty threshold or lower) are food insecure, while only 5.5% of households above that income bracket experience food insecurity.
Poverty rates for East St. Louis, the state of Illinois, and the United States are shown in the following chart:
East St. Louis has a poverty rate greater than three times the state rates of poverty for all age categories and also the national rate for people ages 65 and older. More than a third of all East St. Louis citizens are reported to be in poverty, including almost half of all related children ages 5 to 17. It is likely that inhabitants of East St. Louis suffer from higher rates of food insecurity than other U.S. citizens due to having fewer monetary resources for acquiring food.
The American Community Survey also found that East St. Louis has very different employment patterns than the State of Illinois and the nation as a whole. While Illinois and the U.S. U.S. had unemployment rates of 4.7% and 4.1% respectively, 9.4% of East St. Louis citizens were involuntarily out of work, indicating that there are likely fewer employment opportunities for those seeking jobs. Proportionately more inhabitants of East St. Louis are not in the labor force- about half in the city, versus about a third for the state of Illinois and the nation as a whole. A small subset of the increased number of people not in the labor force may be composed of people who have become disenfranchised after being unable to find a job, or perhaps have stopped seeking a job because of a disability (see section on disability below). More of this subset is likely composed of senior and young citizens. As can be seen in the age distribution of East St. Louis versus Illinois and the United States (see following section on age), East St. Louis contains more young (ages 0-19 years) and older people (ages 55-84 years) who may not be as able to contribute to household income as adults of ages 20-54, proportionately fewer of whom live in East St. Louis as compared with the state and the nation as a whole. The economic data for East St. Louis suggest that residents may not have adequate financial resources to purchase food. Relatively fewer people of working age and fewer job opportunities likely contribute to the problem. This suggests that, from an economic standpoint, a high proportion East St. Louis residents may suffer from food insecurity.
Demographic Information Age Households headed by someone over 60 years of age tend to have greater food security than those with younger heads of house. Seniors may have access to savings and may have paid off their mortgages, meaning they have more income than is reflected by income levels alone. The elderly also have fewer food energy needs. Unfortunately, 5
however, Rose et al suspect that seniors may not assess themselves as food insecure even when they are, partially because the elderly experience less physical sensation of hunger. Less mobility, lack of food preparation skills in recently widowed elderly men, and reluctance to use food stamps are characteristics that increase the chance for seniors to suffer from food insecurity. (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998) Age Distribution
From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey of the US Census
East St. Louis
0- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5 e e e e e e e e e
s+ ar s ye ear 8 84y ars 7 75 y ars 6 64 y ars 6 59 y ars 5 54 y ars 4 44 y ars 3 34 y ars 2 y ars 4 2 2 19 y ars 1 14 y s r 1 yea s 9 r 5- yea 5 0-
0- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5 e e e e e e e e e
s+ ar s ye ear 8 84y ars 7 75 y ars 6 64 y ars 6 59 y ars 5 54 y ars 4 44 y ars 3 34 y ars 2 24 y ars 2 19 y ars 1 14 y s r 1 yea s 9 r 5- yea 5 0-
s+ ar s ye ear 8 84y ars 7 75 y ars 6 64 y ars 6 59 y ars 5 54 y ars 4 44 y ars 3 34 y ars 2 24 y ars 2 19 y ars 1 14 y s r 1 yea s 9 r 5- yea 5 0-
0- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5- 5- 0- 5- 5- 5 e e e e e e e e e
Race/Ethnicity Food insecurity is about twice as prevalent in black or African American and Hispanic households as compared to the national average (Nord, Andrews and Carlson 2008). Race relates back to household income because on average, black or African American and Hispanic households have lower incomes than whites (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998). Lower incomes for minority groups and the prevalence of food insecurity in their numbers show the importance of recognizing the effects of racism on food security in the United States. “In U.S. history,” Rachel Slocum writes, “Racism has a fierce resilience affecting the educational and economic opportunity, political representation, health, income, wealth, and social mobility of people of color.” Because of racism’s prevalence in the United States’ past and present, it is built into the structure of U.S. society: in social norms, the economic system, the built environment, language, policy, and of course, the food system. It is crucial, argues Slocum, to recognize the effect racism has had on communities of color—the legacy of disorganization, disempowerment, and perpetual poverty tied to a lack of control—that today plunge proportionately more minorities into food insecurity (Slocum 2004). 6
Race and Ethnicity From the 2000 US Census
Black or African American American Indian and Alaska Native White Other
East St. Louis
Race and ethnicity data for East St. Louis is not available for the 2006-2008 community survey, so data for this section are a bit dated. However, the general trend, that East St. Louis has many more black or African American citizens than any other racial or ethnic group, remains unchanged. Many more East St. Louis residents, then, than in a community of similar size with a different racial and ethnic distribution, may suffer from discrimination in the form of fewer opportunities or are already suffering from structural racism. These disadvantages put many in the community at greater risk for food insecurity. Home Ownership Homeowners are more likely to have food security than renters. Rose et al explain that household ownership may correlate with several factors that can help a household achieve food security. First, household assets play a part in how able a household is to avoid food insecurity through fluctuations in income and food prices, as well =as through unpredictable, costly events (for example, medical expenses for a member of the household). Households who own a home tend to have more liquid assets than renters. Second, homeowners may have more time to ride out shortages in income without becoming food insecure because, if the household can only afford food or housing, foreclosures take more time than eviction. In addition, a small fraction of home owners enjoy higher disposable income thanks to a paid-off mortgage (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998).
From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey of the US Census
Owner-occupied housing Renter-occupied housing
East St. Louis
East St. Louis has a higher proportion of renters than the state of Illinois and the nation as a whole; 51% of East St. Louis residents rent as compared to 30.2% of Illinois residents and 32.9% of the nation. This may suggest that many residents are less able to face abrupt changes in income, food prices, and household expenses with resiliency because they have few assets, putting them at risk for food insecurity. Another factor specific to East St. Louis related to housing is the rate of a household’s income which must be spent on property taxes. East St. Louis has a property tax rate of 12.5%, the highest in the state of Illinois (ESLARP 2009). This tax is paid directly by homeowners and passed indirectly on to renters, diverting dollars from all residents which may be needed for food.
Social Information Educational Attainment Homes with high school graduates as the head of the house tended to have less food insufficiency than those headed by non-graduates. Educational level effects current and future income, and also may tie into the food preparation, purchasing efficiency, and nutritional knowledge of the household (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998). East St. Louis has a similar proportion of high school graduates as Illinois and the nation (28%, 28.4%, and 29.6%, respectively). However, over a fifth of East St. Louis residents started high school and did not finish, and almost a tenth did not attend high school at all. This compares to less than a tenth for both the state and the nation in both categories. About six percent more East St. Louis residents started
college and did not receive a degree than for the state or the nation. Less than half as many East St. Louis residents achieved a postsecondary degree (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Graduate, or Professional degree) than for the state or nation as a whole (15.7% versus 36.8% and 34.8%, respectively). In general, East St. Louis residents have not received as much education as citizens of Illinois or the United States. As Rose et al explained, lower education contributes to a risk of food insecurity because of lower potential earnings in addition to a possible lack of awareness about techniques for maximizing dollars spent on food. Willie Beard, a community member with experience in nutrition education in East St. Louis, explained that one of her main concerns for East St. Louis is for young mothers and senior citizens who do not know about budgeting, meal planning, and food preparation. The lack of motivation to prepare healthy meals, perhaps because of a lack of knowledge about their importance, compounds the problem. Young mothers and senior citizens without the know-how or incentive to prepare meals have convenience foods, microwaveable meals, and restaurant food as options to feed themselves and their families. These sources are often not as healthy as a home-cooked meal and are often more expensive (Beard 2009). Disability The article, “Food Insecurity and Disability: Do Economic Resources Matter?” showed that an increase in food insecurity and the severity of food insecurity is observed in households headed by people with disabilities. Huang et al suspect that this increased prevalence is due to constrained economic resources (because of higher poverty rates, lower employment rates, and increased need for health services) and lower access to food resources. The increased need for health services among those who are disabled suggests that having a family member who is disabled may increase risk of food insecurity because financial resources may need to be diverted for health services (Huang, Guo and Kim 2010).
Disability Rates of the Civilian, Noninstitutionalized Population From the 2005-2007 American Community Survey of the US Census
60 East St. Louis Illinois United States
40 30 20 10 0
Persons 5-15 years old with a disability
Persons 16-64 years old with a disability
Persons 65 and Older with a disability
East St. Louis shows higher rates of disability in all age groups. The difference is especially prominent among people of working age, from 16-64. One of the types of disability measured by the U.S. census is employment disability. The U.S. Census Bureau defines employment disability as “a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting 6 months or more” that makes a “person [have] difficulty working at a job or business” (US Census Bureau 2004). The proportion of adults with employment disability in East St. Louis is over twice that of the state of Illinois (14.8% versus 5.6%) and almost twice that of the nation as a whole (14.8% versus 7.1%). The elevated rate of those with employment disability in East St. Louis implies that East St. Louis has more people at risk for food insecurity due to disability preventing their ability to work. The elevated rates of all people with disability in East St. Louis suggests that many more families in this community as compared to a typical community may have funds diverted from purchasing nutritious foods by the need to spend on health services. Household Status Married-couple households with children experience higher levels of food insecurity than those without children; however, they do not experience food security higher than the national rate (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998). Households headed by single mothers 8
experience about three times the national average of food insecurity, while those headed by single men experience two times the national average. It is important to note that children are normally shielded from disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake when a family does not have enough resources to provide food for everyone. Nord et al found that, nationally, children were affected in less than one percent of households with children (while 15.8% of households with children experienced food insecurity) (Nord, Andrews and Carlson 2008). Rose et al explain that single parent households, in addition to having one fewer adult who can potentially work for income, also lack a spouse’s labor within the home (for food preparation and meal cleanup, for example). Having less time, single parents may need to substitute more expensive prepared foods (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998). Slocum points out additional adversity for women, who often receive lower pay for the same work. Women may, therefore, suffer greater economic and food insecurity (Slocum 2004). Household Types
From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey of the US Census
East St. Louis
Married-Couple Families no children <18 years with children <18 years Male householder, no wife present no children <18 years with children <18 years Female householder, no husband present no children <18 years with children <18 years Nonfamily households
Though East St. Louis has a slightly lower rate of families with children, the city has more single-parent families with children (the vast majority of which are headed by women) than do Illinois or the United States as a whole. Over a quarter of East St. Louis households are headed by single mothers with children under 18 years, compared to less than eight percent for Illinois and the nation as a whole. East St. Louis has a lower rate of single fathers with children under 18 years (less than 1% compared to over 2% for Illinois and the United States). East St. Louis also has a lower rate of married couples with children. Over a fifth of households in Illinois and the U.S. are married-couple families with minor children, whereas only 4% of families in East St. Louis are thus. Though East St. Louis has lower rates of single fathers with children under 18 years (who showed food insecurity over twice the national rate) and married couple-families with children
under 18 years (who showed elevated food insecurity as compared to households without children), single mothers with children under 18 years of age, who experience three times the national rate of food insecurity, are much more common in East St. Louis. It is likely that these women and, potentially, their children, suffer from food insecurity, potentially contributing to elevated rates of food insecurity for the East St. Louis community as a whole. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFFS) is a program of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) that began in 1984 with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The survey gathers information from Illinois adults about health conditions and risk behaviors by telephone questionnaires. IDPH uses this information as a primary source for insight on conditions related to causes of death in the general population. Though the survey is only as specific as the county level, it is useful in providing a general idea of East St. Louis. The USDA recommends 2-3 cups of vegetables per day for women and men ages 19 and over (USDA 2009), and 1 Â˝ to 2 cups of fruit for women and men ages 19 and over (specific recommendations vary by age and sex) (USDA 2009). More fruit and vegetables are recommended for those participating in 30 minutes or more of physical activity above levels required by everyday activities. Eating recommended levels of fruits and vegetables is important. According to the CDC, eating more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet can help reduce risk of diseases like some cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and possibly heart disease (CDC 2008).
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the Illinois Department of Public Health
0-2 Servings/ Day 2-4 Servings/ Day 5+ Servings/Day
St. Clair County 2007-2009
The BRFFS evaluates fruit and vegetable consumption for each county in Illinois. St. Clair county residents eat fewer fruits and vegetables than residents of the state as a whole; only 16.4% of St. Clair county residents report eating more than 5 servings of vegetables per day versus about a quarter of state residents. This may indicate food insecurity in terms of food resources and access (see community food resources and food accessibility sections for more information). Conclusions
The City of East St. Louis exhibits almost all of the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics common to people who experience higher-than-average levels of food insecurity in the United States. The only characteristics not applicable are related to location in a metropolitan area and region (Nord, Andrews and Carlson 2008), (Rose, Gunderson and Oliveira 1998), (Huang, Guo and Kim 2010). It seems quite likely, therefore, that East St. Louis experiences higherthan-average food security and its resulting problems. See additional sections for insight into the interrelating factors which may be contributing to food insecurity in East St. Louis.
Food Availability: Profile of Community Food Resources
three general classes of markets: grocery stores, convenience stores, and farm produce stands.
East St. Louis residents may obtain food from a variety of resources. What may first come to mind are retail food resources, like grocery and convenience stores. Farm stands provide an alternative food source, and a farmers’ market is slated to open soon. When needed, emergency food assistance resources like food pantries and soup kitchens can help. Of course, government food assistance programs are also available to ensure those in need are able to eat.
East St. Louis has two chain grocery stores, Save-a-lot and Schnuck’s Markets. Schnuck’s produce section has a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables with a large display dedicated to leafy greens. When visiting on a Thursday afternoon, the store was very busy. There is also a bank and a pharmacy on the premises.
Methods This section summarizes the food resources available in East St. Louis. Information about retail food resources comes from a tour of East St. Louis grocery stores (guided by yellowpages.com), an interview with Billie Turner about grocery stores, and an interview with Vince Demange about his produce stand on Pocket Road. Information about the soon-to-open farmers’ market was provided by the U.S. EPA website and Dr. Gerald A. H iggenbotham of Unity for a Better Community. Information about emergency food resources come from directories supplied by the Illinois Food Bank Association, Feeding Illinois, and the St. Louis Area Food Bank. A variety of government websites provided information about government food assistance programs.
Retail Food Resources The food stores in an area have a large impact on the quality, variety, and affordability of foods available to the community. Even some government programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as Food Stamps) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) work through retail markets, so the ability of families to benefit from them is contingent on the sufficiency of markets in the area. East St. Louis’ residents can obtain foods in 10
Farm Produce Stands Though outside of East St. Louis, Demange’s Farm is a significant source of fresh produce for the city from April until Thanksgiving. Vince Demange, Jr, explained that the family grows much of the produce they sell, including tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, squashes, okra, cucumbers, spinach, greens, sweet potatoes, string beans, and cabbage. They also bring in fresh fruit such as grapes, apples, and oranges. In the early spring, the family sells plants and seeds for home gardening; this year, they saw an increase in sales. Consumer Food Cooperatives, Farmers’ Markets ESLARP helped to build a farmers’ market in East St. Louis in 1994 (ESLARP 2001). The farmers’ market eventually closed permanently, possibly because of a lack of opportunity to buy the produce with SNAP or WIC benefits, as one East St. Louis resident speculated (Turner 2009). A new Farmers’ Market is slated to be finished for the 2010 season on the site of an abandoned car dealership. The site was contaminated by leaking underground stoage tanks but has been cleaned with Recovery Act money allocated by the Illinois EPA. The site will then be developed by a local non-profit organization (US EPA 2009), (Living Learning in Faith Everyday 2009).
Retail food resources in East St. Louis
Schnuckâ€™s Markets on a Thursday afternoon in November.
Prominent advertisements for alcohol, cigarettes, and cell phone services are common on convenience stores in East St. Louis.
Emergency Food Assistance Resources East St. Louis is part of the service area of the St. Louis Area food bank, which serves twelve Illinois counties, thirteen St. Louis counties, and the city of St. Louis. This organization supplies eight food pantries within the City of East St. Louis. Some of these pantries, as well as other food organizations in East St. Louis, are supplied by the USDAâ€™s TEFAP program (Illinois Food Bank Association n.d.), (Feeding Illinois n.d.), (St Louis Area Food Bank 2009). Below is a map of these resources, including soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries:
Government Food Assistance Programs
Emergency food assistance resources in East St. Louis
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) The SNAP is administered in Illinois by the Department of Human Services (DHS), though the program is managed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the USDA. Applicants who qualify are provided benefits accessible with an electronic card accepted at most grocery stores. Eligibility rules are complex, but the most important factors are income and expenses; number of people living and eating together; and the amount of available liquid assets (Illinois Department of Human Services n.d.).
East St. Louis has one DHS Community Resource Center. Applications can be filled out and hand-delivered, mailed, or faxed to the center. They can also be filled out online (Illinois Department of Human Services n.d.). According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, about 40% of East St. Louis households participate in the SNAP. Households with at least one member 60 years of age or older have 20% SNAP participation, while households with children 18 years or younger have 60% participation. National School Lunch Program (NSLP) The NSLP is a federal program administered by the Illinois Board of Education which includes the School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Seamless Summer Option, and Afterschool Care Program. Programs must be not-forprofit and meals meeting federal requirements must be offered to all attending children. Private schools and residential child care institutions may voluntarily participate, though Illinois public schools are required by the Illinois Free Lunch and Breakfast Program to provide free meals. This program also partially reimburses the cost of free meals for all institutions offering them (Illinois State Board of Education n.d.). Many East St. Louis schools offer breakfast, lunch, and a snack (Illinois State Board of Education 2000). Free and reduced meals are offered at 26 East St. Louis institutions, including 3 not in the city but under the jurisdiction of the East St. Louis School District 189. (Illinois State Board of Education 2009). The 21 public schools in the East St. Louis School District 189 also participate in the Seamless Summer Option of the NSLP, which extends meals throughout the summer and long holidays (Illinois State Board of Education 2009). Over eighty-eight percent of East St. Louisâ€™ 11,559 schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced meals (Illinois State Board of Education 2009). 13
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) The CACFP funds meals and snacks for low-income adults and children. Childrenâ€™s meals and snacks are provided at day cares, emergency shelters, and afterschool programs. Adult meals are provided for adults cared for in non-residential adult day care centers. These meals help to improve nutrition and the affordability of care services for low-income families (USDA 2010). The Child and Adult Care food Program is run by two different organizations in Illinois. The components of the program serving children are headed by the Illinois State Board of Education, whereas Illinois seniors in need are served by the Illinois Department on Aging (USDA 2010). The Illinois State Board of Education website provides the addresses of daycares in funded by the program in East St. Louis, shown on the map below (Illinois State Board of Education 2010). The single senior center, which provides both on-site group meals and at-home meals, is also marked on the map. This center serves about 70 meals to 58 individuals on-site (lunch and breakfasts for the most at risk of food insecurity) and provides 224 meals per day with the meals on wheels at-home meal program (Sutton 2010).
Food Distribution Program
Assessment of Household Food Security
This program allows schools the opportunity to claim excess inventory from processors on a first-come, first-served basis. East St. Louis School District 189 received $186,168.18 worth of commodity food from this program in 2009. The Food Distribution Program also includes the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. East St. Louis schools did not participate in this program in 2009 (Illinois State Board of Education 2009).
An assessment of the household food security is a continued need in the East St. Louis community. Such an assessment would give an idea of how many people experience food insecurity. Though household food security does not equate community food security, this type of assessment can be an important indicator of whether there is a potential problem, and repeated assessments can serve as a measuring tool for the effectiveness of programs striving to improve community food security.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) WIC is administered by the Illinois DHS. WIC benefits include nutrition and health screening and referrals; information about nutrition and healthy eating, breastfeeding, and childcare; WIC foods; and coupons to buy healthy foods. Low-income pregnant and postpartum mothers and their children (up to 5 years of age) who are nutritionally at risk are eligible. East St. Louis has one enrollment location for WIC, East Side Health District (East Side Health District 2009). The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) States receive foods purchased by the USDA in proportion to their low-income and unemployed population. Administration and distribution of the foods are handled by state agencies, which then distribute the foods to local organizations which either directly, or via other organizations, distribute foods to households or serve meals (USDA Food and Nutrition Service 2008). Organizations participating in this program were discussed in â€œEmergency Food Assistance Providersâ€? above.
Assessment of Food Resource Accessibility Sufficient access to foods and food resources for all is key in ensuring community food security. Food resources must be within reasonable distance, especially for those with limited resources. If not, public or private transportation must be available for traveling to and from the store. Other barriers may also exist, such as inconvenient hours, poor customer service, a lack of information, stigma, or insufficient food or food benefits. Though there is still a need for focus groups to be conducted to determine the significance of barriers other than distance and transportation availability, analysis of distance and available transportation indicate that there may be a food security problem stemming from access in East St. Louis.
Methods Layered data allows study of the accessibility of food in East St. Louis. Poverty and private vehicle ownership data is provided by the 2000 census (unfortunately, therefore, the data may be a bit dated). Food resource data is the same data as described in the Food Availability: Profile of Community Food Resources section. Public transportation data was gathered from the Illinois transit map of the Metro-St. Louis transportation service (Metro Transit- St. Louis 2010).
Poverty and Food Resources In the map below we can see the areas of town where more people are in poverty, and compare them to where the grocery stores are located. The green shapes represent block groups, a sampling group from the U.S. census, within the city limits of East St. Louis. The darker the green coloring the block group, the higher the percentage there is of individuals with incomes below poverty level living in that area. Retail food resources are marked with purple dots. Places where one can acquire fresh produce in town are the two lightest purples, while the darkest purple dot outside of town represents a farm stand. Most of the dots represent convenience stores. The grocery stores and soon-to-open farmers’ markets all exist outside the most impoverished areas of East St. Louis. In fact, they are all clustered in one small area in the center of the city. While there are grocery stores located in adjoining towns, they are quite far as well to get to for people living in the outer edges of the city. Some type of transportation—whether public or private—is clearly needed to get to these stores.
Legend C M C
Percent individuals in poverty 90-100% 80-89.99% 70-79.99% 60-69.99% 50-59.99% 40-49.99% 30-39.99% 20-29.99% 10-19.99% 0-9.99%
Retail food resources G Grocery stores C Convenience stores M Farmers’ Market F Farmstand
Private Transportation Resources This map is similar to the map above, though now block groups are colored to show the percent of households in each area with no vehicle available. The darker the green color is, the higher the proportion of households in that area with no vehicle available. Again, areas with high proportions of people who do not have assured access to a private vehicle do not have proximally located grocery stores. This may indicate, if there are not other transportation resources available, a food access problem.
Legend C M C
Percent households, no vehicle available 90-100% 80-89.99% 70-79.99% 60-69.99% 50-59.99% 40-49.99% 30-39.99% 20-29.99% 10-19.99% 0-9.99%
Retail food resources G Grocery stores C Convenience stores M Farmersâ€™ Market F Farmstand
Public Transportation In this version of the map, the block groups again are colored to display the percentage of households without a vehicle, though with darker gray representing areas with a higher proportion of households without a vehicle. The dark green lines represent bus routes serving the two grocery stores directly. These routes do not directly serve everyone in the city, though it is possible to transfer to get to the main bus line. Bus travel may be a difficult option for many people in East St. Louis, as transporting groceries on the bus is inconvenient and limiting. There are also many single parents (see Socioeconomic and Demographic Characteristics section) who may have to juggle both children and full bags of groceries on the bus. An informal taxi service exists at the grocery stores to take people home with their groceries, however (Turner 2009). Note there is no public transportation available to get to the farm stand.
C M C
Percent households without a vehicle 90-100% 80-89.99% 70-79.99% 60-69.99% 50-59.99% 40-49.99% 30-39.99% 20-29.99% 10-19.99% 0-9.99%
Retail food resources G Grocery stores C Convenience stores M Farmersâ€™ Market F Farmstand Routes direct to grocery store Other routes
Though the preceding maps above suggest that there may be a food access problem for some residents, further information should be collected from residents themselves to determine if there are other barriers such as inconvenient hours, poor customer service, a lack of information, stigma, or insufficient food or food benefits.
Assessment of Food Availability and Affordability To truly understand the availability and affordability of food in East St. Louis, a supermarket survey of the food resources is necessary. This research is still a need for the completion of this report. This research will show if a variety of foods are available in retail stores, and if those foods are affordable to low-income households.
Assessment of Food Production Resources Community and School Gardens Gateway Greening lists two community Gardens in East St. Louis on its site, the Bolden Community Garden and Wyvetter Younge Middle School Community Garden (Gateway Greening 2009). Another garden tended by one man is located near LaLumier School (Turner 2009). LaLumier School also hosts a school garden (Collier 2009).
Retail Farms and Consumer-Supported Agriculture Local Harvest.org provides a directory of retail farms, farmers’ markets, consumer-supported agriculture organizations (CSAs), and locally-supplied restaurants and groceries (Local Harvest 2009). Despite a relatively high density of these organizations in St. Louis, there are none listed in East St. Louis. Though East St. Louis residents may be able to subscribe to a CSA, it is likely they would have to pick up their food at a drop-off station in St. Louis (Hale 2010). Absent on the map, however, is the Demanges’ produce stand.
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Published on Apr 26, 2012
Published on Apr 26, 2012
East St. Louis is high at risk for food insecurity, as shown by analysis of community socioeconomic and demographic characteristics; food av...