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Food Disparity

This Food Disparity subject guide provides sources for poverty, food disparity, and food deserts.


Food Disparity 

This Food Disparity subject guide provides research sources on poverty, food disparity, and food deserts. The databases, journals, and Internet sources listed will give you the tools necessary for finding quality information on your topics. 

Define: Food security

Define: Food Security

A few of the aspects that should be considered in food justice and food security:

  • Food miles: how far must food be transported from field to plate? Food that travels less is fresher and cheaper, in general.
  • Relational/proximate: where does what is raised go? from whom? to whom? for what price? what is wasted?
  • Food accessibility: how far must people go to get healthy food? How hard is it to do? Without a car? With a disability? With four children under five?
  • Economic equity: affordable food would vary according to income, but there must be something safe, appropriate and palatable for each person in a given place.
  • Health disparities: people who live in poverty have a significantly higher rate of most health problems, but those that relate to food include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and related illnesses. Many of these diseases are specifically correlated with poor diet and cheap, highly processed foods.
  • Environmental protection: the low price of food overall in the United States has been driven historically by the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. This has allowed greater yields, but there have been environmental, genetic and financial costs that must be mitigated to avoid continued environmental damage.

These main points are drawn largely from a conference talk by Dr. Gail Feenstra, UC Davis. Food Justice Summit, Fayetteville, AR, 2013.

Define: Poverty

Define: Poverty


definition - A family is counted as poor if its pretax money income is below its poverty threshold. Money income does not include noncash benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, employer-provided health insurance and food stamps. The 2012 HHS poverty guideline is $11,170 for an individual or $23,050 for a family of four.

United Nations definition - Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

Extreme Poverty - World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25(US) per day.

Online Sources