Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Lack of accessibility to healthy foods is a factor associated with the increase in obesity, diabetes, and other negative health consequences. While programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) provide supplemental nutritional access to healthy foods, few organic food items are included in the WIC authorized food list. Government programs and policy makers that provide to the most vulnerable populations are concerned about equal availability of healthy foods. The purpose of this study was to compare variability and cost of organic food items in 24 large chain grocery stores located in high- and low-income areas. The theoretical concepts of social production of disease and political economy of health guided the study. The study used a quantitative research design to investigate the relationship between neighborhood income level and the consumer nutrition environment. Organic food scores were compared by neighborhood income level using t test and ANOVA. There were significant differences in availability and variability scores of healthy organic foods between high- and low-income neighborhood stores. Organic food items, specifically 15% fat content ground beef, peanut butter, apple juice, and eggs were priced significantly higher than conventional items (p < 0.05). Pricing of organic foods varied and no significant pricing trends were noted between neighborhood income levels. This study may contribute to social change by enhancing the conversation on organic food availability and affordability. Social change may be promoted through identification of the need to expand WIC authorization of organic food items and increasing produce voucher amount to allow WIC participants to purchase higher amounts of organic produce.