Publication Date



Equality/Civil Rights


Given the emerging focus on improving food environments and food systems through planning, this article investigates racial disparities in neighborhood food environments. An empirical case of Erie County, New York tests the hypothesis that people belonging to different racial groups have access to different neighborhood food destinations. Using multiple methods—Gini coefficients and Poisson regression—we show that contrary to studies elsewhere in the country there are no food deserts in Erie County. However, like other studies, we find an absence of supermarkets in neighborhoods of color when compared to white neighborhoods. Nonetheless, our study reveals an extensive network of small grocery stores in neighborhoods of color. Rather than soliciting supermarkets, supporting small, high-quality grocery stores may be a more efficient strategy for ensuring access to healthful foods in minority neighborhoods.