Bringing supermarkets into food deserts : an analysis of retail intervention policies
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This paper looks at policy efforts used to address the food access issues plaguing urban areas commonly referred to as food deserts. The efforts are framed as retail intervention policies, and the paper follows a structured inquiry to assess retail intervention policy effectiveness in bringing supermarkets in underserved urban areas. Through five case studies (Liberty City, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Chicago, New Orleans, and Kansas City) this paper examines the creation and use of several different retail intervention policies. Each case study presents the conditions predicating the need to improve food access and the policy instruments used to address the issues. The paper assesses the policies based on seven features: strategy components, funding stream, viability, duration, scope, cost-effectiveness, and repeatability. The analysis compares the cases to determine overall policy efficacy and impact. The paper makes several conclusions regarding retail intervention policies. Corporation-initiated efforts to open stores indicate market-expansion rather than actual policy. While TIF (tax increment financing) polices can be effective for financing and land development in urban revitalization projects, the market analyses used in TIF models are not appropriately designed to understand and measure the potential success of supermarket projects. A specifically designed food financing policy such as FFFI needs to have a community-based food-advocacy group, sufficient start-up funds, and a capable CDFI (community development financial institution) in order to sustain program operations and support successful supermarket projects.