Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: The Impact of Access and Value

30 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2020

See all articles by Retsef Levi

Retsef Levi

MIT Sloan School of Management - Operations Research Center

Elisabeth Paulson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Operations Research Center

Georgia Perakis

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: Septembe 16, 2020

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to leverage household-level data to improve food-related policies aimed at
increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables (FVs) among low-income households. Currently, several interventions target areas where residents have limited physical access to grocery stores, many focusing directly on increasing their access to healthy food. However, despite growing attention being placed on access at both federal and local levels, there is surprisingly little agreement about the efficacy of these interventions, due in part to the observational nature of most data, and lack of understanding of causal mechanisms and effect heterogeneity. The paper leverages the USDA’s FoodAPS dataset, employing the technique of matching to estimate the effect of food stamp recipient households’ access to grocery stores and value of nutrition—the extent to which a household values healthy eating—on FV spending. The analysis finds that access impacts a household’s FV spending by affecting shopping frequency, but only among households with a low value of nutrition and at distances of less than 1 mile. Value of nutrition impacts FV spending through both changes in food choices and shopping frequency, primarily among households with poor access. These findings can be used to inform more targeted and effective policy interventions.

Keywords: Food deserts, Food access, Food policy, Causal inference

Suggested Citation

Levi, Retsef and Paulson, Elisabeth and Perakis, Georgia, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: The Impact of Access and Value (Septembe 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3691925 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3691925

Retsef Levi

MIT Sloan School of Management - Operations Research Center ( email )

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Elisabeth Paulson (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Operations Research Center ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02139
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Georgia Perakis

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-565
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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