Objective: Three metrics (accessibility, availability, affordability) to quantify local food insecurity.
Methods: mail-in survey; focus groups
Outcomes: According to the results from our investigation into price comparison among grocery stores and from national GIS data, Blaine County has food readily available that meets the minimum USDA standards for a healthy diet, and most people live close enough to a grocery store to be able to access that food. Even in Carey, where there were assumptions of a food desert, an Adamson’s market and another gas station provide minimal groceries and fresh produce.
However, an interesting theme emerged from our focus group in Carey – although they do not have large markets with a wide variety of produce, Carey residents adopt a communal attitude towards food. Many residents grow their own food and share it with their neighbors, or barter for other items.
Our community food survey revealed that 14.1% of households are food insecure in Blaine County, with an additional 5% of households classified as “marginally food secure.” Marginally food secure is a term that describes people who engaged in some kind of coping strategy because they did not have enough money or enough food at some point this past year, but did not engage in them frequently enough to warrant a food insecure household.
In the mail-in survey, we used a screener provided by the USDA. The screener was designed to minimize respondent burden; those who responded that they have enough of the kinds of foods they want to eat were instructed to skip the Food Security section and answer the demographic section. Our results indicate that about 78% of people should have skipped this section. Yet between 30-40% of respondents answered some of our questions in this section, and many of them responded that they had engaged in certain coping strategies due to economic stress.