The USDA does not measure food deserts by access to urban agriculture or to farmers markets, but when accounting for these food sources it increases the number of healthy stores in an area (Bader 2010). This lack of accounting makes it difficult to identify how these interventions have impacted food access for people in food deserts. However, studies show these interventions can reduce food insecurity (Durward 2018; Carney 2012).
Please refer to our Science Notes Food Insecurity & Deserts and Strategies to Combat Food Insecurity to learn who is impacted by food insecurity and other interventions to address it.
Farmers Markets. There are 205 farmers markets in MO. When farmers markets open in food deserts, there is an increase in the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that the community eats (Gary-Webb 2018; Strome 2016; Larsen 2009).
Additionally, farmers markets can be unsustainable since they are often run by volunteers or underpaid workers, have competition with online retailers, suffer from a scarcity of farmers, and struggle with a small consumer base (Metz 2021).
Government programs such as the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) which is available to seniors and Women Infants and Children (WIC) participants, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) decrease food insecurity and increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by reducing costs for households at farmers markets (Durward 2018). FMNP money can only be spent at participating farmers markets, while SNAP money can be spent at a variety of businesses including participating farmers markets.
Refer to our Science Note Farmer’s Market Nutrition Programs to learn how this program impacts consumers and vendors at farmers markets.
Urban agriculture. Urban agriculture refers to growing and distributing food in urban areas, including personal gardens, community gardens, and large commercial operations. Surveys of low-income gardeners found that gardening increased daily fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, saved around $85 in groceries per month, and decreased food insecurity (Algert 2016; Carney 2012). Examples of long running urban agriculture programs (17-40 years) include The Food Project in Boston, MA, City Slicker Farms in Oakland, CA, and GreenThumb in New York, NY. The evidence on the impact of urban agriculture on increasing food access in food deserts is mixed.
Some states have provided tax incentives to encourage urban agriculture, including tax credits and rebates. Other approaches give property tax incentives and provide use of vacant land to increase land access for use in urban agriculture (NCSL 2022).
See supplemental table 1 for further details on the tax incentives offered by MO and other states.
Algert S, Diekmann L, Renvall M, Gray L (2016) Community and home garens increase vegetable intake and food security of residents in San Jose, California. California Agriculture, 70(2): 77-82. https://calag.ucanr.edu/archive/?type=pdf&article=ca.v070n02p77
Bader MD, Purciel M, Yousefzadeh P, Neckerman KM (2010) Disparities in neighborhood food environments: implications of measurement strategies. Journal of Economic Geography, 86(4): 409-430. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21117330/
Bass M, Chavez FLC, Chapman D, Freeman K, Mangoni GN, McKelvey B, Miller E, Rikoon S (2019) Missouri Hunger Atlas 2019. Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, University of Missouri. https://foodsecurity.missouri.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2019-Missouri-Hunger-Atlas_FINAL-2.pdf
Brace AM, Moore TW, Matthews TL (2020) The Relationship Between Food Deserts, Farmers' Markets, and Food Assistance Programs in Hawai‘i Census Tracts. Hawai’i Journal of Health & Social Welfare, 79(2): 36-41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7007308/
Carney PA, Hamada JL, Rdesinski R, Sprager L, Nichols K, Liu BY, Pelayo J, Sanchez MA, Shannon J (2012) Impact of a Community Gardening Project on Vegetable Intake, Food Security and Family Relationships: A Community-based Participatory Research Study. Journal of Community Health, 37(4): 874-881.
Durward CM, Savoie-Roskos M, Atoloye A, Isabella P, Jewkew MD, Ralls B, Riggs K, LeBlanc H (2018) Double Up Food Bucks Participation is Associated with Increased Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Food Security Among Low-Income Adults. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(3): 342-347. https://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(18)30745-0/fulltext#articleInformation
Gary-Webb TL, Bear TM, Mendez DD, Schiff MD, Keenan E, Fabio A (2018) Evaluation of a Mobile Farmer's Market Aimed at Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Food Deserts: A Pilot Study to Determine Evaluation Feasibility. Health Equity, 2(1): 375-383. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6301430/
Gbenro M, Brace AM, Matthews TL (2019) The relationship between food deserts, farmers’ markets, Nutrition Benefits, and health in Delaware census tracts; 2017. Delaware Journal of Public Health, 5(5): 16-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8389158/
Larsen K, Gilliland J (2009) A farmers’ market in a food desert: Evaluating impacts on the price and availability of healthy food. Health & Place, 15(4): 1158-1162. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1353829209000641
Mack EA, Ton D, Credit K (2017) Gardening in the desert: a spatial optimization approach to locating gardens in rapidly expanding urban environments. International Journal of Health Geographics, 16(1): 37. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29037243/
McClintock N, Mahmoudi D, Simpson M, Santos JP (2016) Socio-spatial differentiation in the Sustainable City: A mixed-methods assessment of residential gardens in metropolitan Portland, Oregon, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning, 148:1-16. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169204615002509
Metz JJ, Scherer SM (2022) The rise and decline of farmers markets in greater Cincinnati. Agriculture and Human Values, 39(1): 95-117. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34149165/
Missouri Grown USA (2023) Senior & WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Authorized Farmers. https://missourigrownusa.com/farmersmarketlistings.pdf
Strome S, Johns T, Scicchitano MJ, Shelnutt K (2016) Elements of Access: The Effects of Food Outlet Proximity, Transportation, and Realized Access on Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Food Deserts. International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 37(1): 61-70. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28038499/
USDA (2023) Farmers Markets Accepting SNAP Benefits https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Ffns-prod.azureedge.us%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fresource-files%2FSNAPauthorizedFMsJanuary2023.xlsx&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK
Whittinghill L, Sarr S (2021) Practices and Barriers to Sustainable Urban Agriculture: A Case Study of Louisville, Kentucky. Urban Science, 5(4): 92. https://www.mdpi.com/2413-8851/5/4/92