We guided our research based on the following question, “Is the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood a food desert, and what steps can be taken to increase access to fresh and healthy food in the neighborhood?” We answered this question through qualitative and quantitative analysis of the local shopping community in Lincoln Park/West End using the following four steps:
1) Store Inventory of the Local Shopping Community
In order to compare availability and cost of typical grocery items, we visited each store in the neighborhood that sells food and completed a checklist identifying the cost of a typical “market basket” of goods (see Appendix B for the complete survey). We surveyed traditional grocery stores, as well as stores that sold only a few food items. At each store, we noted the availability and cost of each grocery item on our list. For purposes of comparison, we also noted the cost of these goods at other area large and small grocery outlets.
2) Shopper Survey
With the assistance of the local community group Volunteers Caring and Patrolling (VCAP), we included a survey in the March issue of the VCAP newsletter “Community Spirit,” which was sent to 2800 households in the Lincoln Park/West End neighborhood on March 5 and 6, 2011 (see Appendix A for a complete copy of the survey). Each survey contained a letter introducing the project and a two-page survey consisting of twenty-three questions and space for respondents to write comments. Each survey also included a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope in which to return the survey to us. Over the course of the following month, we received 382 completed surveys (a 14% response rate). We entered these responses into the survey database program UMSurvey and then exported the responses into an Excel spreadsheet and transferred them into SPSS for statistical analysis and ARCInfo for geographic analysis. We also coded respondents’ comments (approximately one in three respondents included comments on their survey) and included them in this report.
We used a Geographical Information System (GIS) to analyze the survey results. Using respondents’ answers to our question asking for the closest intersection to their house, we used the 10.0 North American Geocode Service to geocode the addresses as the reference layer. Of the 377 addresses, 330 matched and 40 tied; and the GIS technician hand corrected the tied addresses. After completing the geocoding, we used a join to link the original table to the coded addresses.
Figure 10: Community Member Interviews
4th Street Market
Lincoln Park Business Group
Faith Haven Convenience Store
CHUM Food Shelf
Community Action Duluth
3) Community Member Interviews
In order to understand more about the local shopping environment and the relationship between community organizations and food access, we also conducted seven interviews with local community members (see Figure 10 and Appendix C). The purpose of these interviews was to identify local problems and solutions to community food access and to learn what solutions had been attempted previously in order to prepare new responses.
4) Market Analysis
We also conducted a market analysis of the Lincoln Park/West End trade area using Esri data to determine the community’s buying power, consumption preferences, and residents’ level of mobility. A retail gap analysis is a basic comparison of the demand for retail goods and services in an area and the supply of retail goods and services in the same area. We used this data to approximate the amount of money leaking out of Lincoln Park/West End to grocery stores in other neighborhoods in Duluth.