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University of Connecticut College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Community Food Security

 

How to Interpret Rankings

Three Rankings of Community Food Security

This study defines a community according to the geographic boundaries of the 169 towns in the State of Connecticut. We have developed three rankings to inform and guide policy leaders and stakeholders that are interested in addressing hunger and food insecurity in their community. They are:

  1. Population At-Risk Ranking - In this analysis we rank towns based on an examination of each town's particular population mix of income and socioeconomic characteristics to determine the likelihood that a resident in a particular town is food insecure.
    • How to Interpret the Population At-Risk Ranking - A resident in a town with a ranking of 1 has the least risk of being food insecure, relative to other towns. By contrast, a resident in a town with a ranking of 169 has the greatest risk of being food insecure, relative to other towns. This population at-risk ranking is general to the entire population of a town and cannot be interpreted as a measure of household food insecurity.
  2. Food Retail Ranking - In this analysis we rank towns based on an examination of the geographic proximity from town population centers to food retailers and the number of food retail options for consumers. Recognizing a resident's ability to shop for food in neighboring towns, we have ignored political town boundaries for conventional food-at-home retailers such as supermarkets, grocery, wholesale clubs, and mass merchandisers in determining the food options available for a resident of a particular town.
    • How to Interpret the Food Retail Ranking - A ranking of 1 means this town has the best geographic proximity to food retailers relative to other towns. With easier geographic access and/or a greater number of cumulative opportunities to access food sold at retail, a higher ranking means this population has readily available food for purchase. Keep in mind that a town's ranking in this category provides no information about the affordability or quality of food available through food retail establishments.
  3. Food Assistance Ranking - In this analysis we rank towns based on an examination of participation in public food assistance programs and availability of public bus transportation to determine how well town residents are by being served.
    • How to Interpret the Food Assistance Ranking - A ranking of 1 means eligible town residents are participating in more public food assistance services and the town has available public bus transportation to gain access to food resources. A town's ranking for food assistance participation provides no information about the quality of food assistance programming.

How to Collectively Interpret Rankings

An alternative examination of community food security comes from looking at the three rankings in combination. For example:

A town with a high Population At-Risk ranking (at the extreme 169) is a population that is generally viewed as being more likely to be food insecure, assuming that resources are not available. Given a high Population Food Security ranking it is then necessary to determine how well a town is providing for the population, through both geographic access to retail food opportunities and through food assistance programs. A town with a low Food Retail or Food Assistance ranking is providing higher levels of food security for the population. Thus a town with a Population Food Security ranking of 169 combined with a Food Retail and Food Assistance ranking of 1 is providing a relatively greater amount of food resources for its population. As the Food Retail and Food Assistance rankings increase this signals a potential need to focus on expanding retail options and/or improving participation rates in food assistance programs for a given town population.

 

 

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Community Food Security,
Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy

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Contact

Community Food Security
Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy
1376 Storrs Rd, Unit 4021
Storrs, Ct 06269-4021

ZwickCenter@uconn.edu

Phone: (860) 486-2836
Fax: (860) 486-1932