Improving access to healthy, affordable foods can help prevent and reduce obesity among children and families. Yet many families do not have access to healthy affordable foods in their neighborhoods and communities. Food access is also an important component of food security, which is having consistent access to enough nutritious food for a healthy active life. In 2018, an estimated 1 in 9 Americans were food insecure, including more than 11 million children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this number rose to the highest levels ever documented in the U.S. at 38%, with nearly 1 in 2 households with children impacted. Research in this area focuses on increasing access to healthy affordable foods through grocery stores, corner stores, restaurants, mobile food vendors, farmers’ markets, and other food outlets in low-access areas including lower-income communities in urban and rural areas.

Research & Publications See all

July 2021

Promoting Equitable Expansion of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot

The USDA Online Purchasing Pilot, which allows SNAP participants to shop and pay for groceries online, rapidly expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to March 2021, the number of participating states increased from 5 to 47. This brief assesses whether the Pilot promotes healthy food access (using the criteria of availability and utilization) More

March 2021

USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Vendor Criteria: An Examination of US Administrative Agency Variations

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, is associated with improved healthy food and beverage access due to its requirement for minimum stock of healthy foods and beverages in WIC-eligible stores. The selection and authorization criteria used to authorize WIC vendors varies widely More

November 2020

Retail Strategies to Support Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating Research (HER), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and The Food Trust have developed the first national research agenda focused on healthy food retail. The research agenda is the result of a multi-step process, including commissioned research and a Healthy Retail Research convening, which More

April 2020

The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity amid COVID-19 Pandemic

With unemployment currently at a record high as a result of COVID-19, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is expected to increase significantly. Congress has already passed three COVID-19 aid bills, which include SNAP provisions such as funding for emergency benefits for SNAP households and program administrative flexibilities. This issue brief that reviews More