Exploring the Role of Boston's Community Health Centers in Improving Healthy Food Access.
Abstract: Recent research suggests that inadequate access to healthy food may
contribute to high rates of obesity and diet-related disease, particularly in low-income
neighborhoods and communities of color. As a result, municipal governments and
community-based organizations across the country have begun to organize an increasing
number of healthy food access initiatives, which seek to improve... read morethe availability and
affordability of healthy food in local communities. Up to this point, however, little
research has been done to examine the extent to which Federally Qualified Health Centers
(FQHCs) are involved in healthy food access initiatives. FQHCs have a longstanding history
of engaging communities in efforts to address the social determinants of health and thus
have the potential to be a valuable partner in efforts to improve healthy food access. This
thesis uses qualitative interviews with health center staff in the city of Boston, MA, to
explore health centers' motivations for getting involved in healthy food access initiatives
and the challenges and resources that go along with such work. In addition, a geospatial
analysis of healthy and unhealthy food store densities provides context for the current
state of healthy food access in targeted health center neighborhoods. Ultimately, this
thesis provides recommendations for how planners and policymakers can build upon the work
of community health centers to improve health outcomes and secure food justice over the
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisor: Mary Davis.
Committee: Julian Agyeman.
Keywords: Urban planning, Public health, and Nutrition.read less