2015/2016 Project Update
During the last year, Professors Marcelli and Bosco’s work on the project focused on three major activities:
- Analyzing and mapping data from participatory research activities with school children to investigate the everyday food geographies
- Analyzing the food environment in our three study areas, focusing specifically on ethnic markets and the transformation of our study neighborhoods over time
- Conducting interviews of families regarding their place-based food practices
A number of conference presentations and published work related to the project has been produced (see Documents below). A summary of significant findings this year include:
- In our study areas, ethnic stores, which are typically too small to be included in typical indicators of food access, provide a significant source of healthy and affordable food
- Lack of acknowledgment of the positive role these retailers play reflects a racialized and classed understanding of health and a stigmatization of the food environment of low-income neighborhoods
- Urban agriculture, an increasingly important component of sustainable urban development in San Diego, is unevenly distributed and correlated with gentrification pressures
- Children and young people face a complex food environment and are faced with contradictory messages regarding healthy food. They are emotionally engaged with what, how and where they eat. Their food routines and choices are structured and governed by social relations, physical and material constraints, biopower, and emotional geographies
- Preliminary results suggest that families in low-income and ethnically-diverse neighborhoods shop for food and consume food in ways that differ from what is typically assumed from a normalized health perspective. While food is often a source of stress and conflict, it is also a source of pleasure. These emotional geographies are entangled with place-based provision activities and relationships to home, markets, neighborhoods and country of origin
2014/15 Project Update
During the second year of the project, Professors Marcelli and Bosco continued working on the project with a team of graduate and undergraduate students. The aim remained the food environments of City Heights and Southeastern San Diego, but with a specific focus on children and young people. The research team collected a wealth of data on the way young people experience and navigate their food environment. Professors Marcelli and Bosco partnered with leaders in different local institutions to engage young people in their own neighborhood, including a GIS class at Herbert Hoover High School and a group of young girls participating in activities with the United Women of East Africa. The research involved creative activities that included photography, photo voice, interviews, surveys and focus groups. SDSU students played a key and active role in all these different research activities. Research participants from the United Women of East Africa also presented their own experiences of working in the project at the 4th International Conference on the Geographies of Children, Youth and Families, which was held in San Diego in January 2015. Professor's Marcelli and Bosco helped organized and participated in this conference as well. In addition, during this year the research team updated the food environment data for City Heights by re-surveying all food retailers in the neighborhood. These activities included collaboration with the Business Retail Program of the Network for a Healthy California. The team has begun to clean and organized the data, and data analysis will begin in summer 2015 and proceed throughout the rest of next academic year.
2013/14 Project Update
During the first year of the project, Professors Marcelli and Bosco and a team of graduate and undergraduate students documented the main characteristics of the local food environment in each of the study area neighborhoods, distinguishing between private retailers (i.e. formal and informal stores and restaurants, farmers’ markets), community gardens and urban agriculture opportunities, and public and nonprofit food assistance programs. The data collected include, among many other variables, information about availability, price, source, and quality of a variety of food items; esthetics, safety, and convenience of stores and restaurants; participation in public programs; and ethnic affiliation. The team also conducted audits at the weekly farmers’ markets in each neighborhood, visited all community garden and conducted semi-structured interviews of store-owners to assess their perception of their neighborhood and its residents, their understandings of community needs and healthy food and their experiences addressing food security concerns. This detailed assessment of the availability, quality and affordability of various food sources seeks to contribute to a better knowledge of community food security in the area. The research team has been working closely with Project New Village in Southeast San Diego, a non-profit organization working to promote personal, community and communal wellness.