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Abstract

This article uses a random sample of census block groups to describe the adequacy of the local food retail environment in the continental United States. It builds upon simple empirical relationships between population density, poverty rates, vehicle access, and proximity to the nearest supermarket. In contrast with the conventional wisdom, the results show that high-poverty block groups had closer proximity to the nearest supermarket than other block groups did, on average: 85.6% of high-poverty block groups had a supermarket within 1 mile, while 76.8% of lower-poverty block groups had a supermarket within this distance. Population density is a strong predictor of proximity to the nearest supermarket. Block groups with very high population density generally had very close proximity to a nearest supermarket. In block groups lacking a nearby supermarket, rates of automobile access generally were quite high (more than 95%), although this still leaves almost 5% of the population in these areas lacking both an automobile and a nearby supermarket.

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