Summer 2017 Colloquium: Graduate Portfolio in Applied Statistical Modeling

Speaker

Date

Time

Location

Title

Chris Tracy August 14, 2017 1:00 to 1:30 pm GDC 7.402 "Food Security and Ease of Food Access in Austin, Texas"
         


 Chris Tracy

(MA student in Public Affairs, supervised by Dr. Chandler Stolp)

Title: "Food Security and Ease of Food Access in Austin, Texas"

Abstract: Food insecurity is a big problem in Austin, Texas. A recent project by the LBJ School of Public affairs found that 25% of people in Austin are food insecure. They studied a low-income community in Austin and found that many interviewees had difficulties accessing healthy and culturally appropriate food due to a lack of sidewalks and adequate public transportation options to their local grocery store. Austin lacks over 2,000 miles of sidewalks, making it difficult for people in those areas to travel safely to and from the local grocery store or bus stop. Using data from the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project, this paper looks at the relation between accessibility to food and food insecurity, as measured by whether or not a household owns a car. Car ownership eliminates the problems of both a poor public transportation system and a lack of sidewalks when grocery shopping.

The results of the analysis show that ownership of a car is not statistically significant at the .05 level. Income, which was divided into four different categories, was found to be significant in all models and at every level, each significantly different from the others. For the lowest income level, 49% of those with a car and 60% of those without had either low or very low food security. Race nor any of its interaction with income were statistically significant. This result was surprising as many other studies had found a relationship between race and food insecurity. Children seemed to have an effect on food security, outside of its own hypothesized effect on income due to having more mouths to feed. It seems that having children presents its own unique challenges which increase the likelihood of food insecurity.

When implementing policies to deal with food insecurity, the most important determinant of food insecurity is income level. Furthermore, families present a unique challenge that should be accounted for when trying to combat food insecurity, and more research should be done as to what about children makes food insecurity more likely. Lastly, further research should be done in Austin to see if race affects food insecurity.