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Accessibility to emergency food systems in south-central Indiana evaluated by spatiotemporal indices of pressure at county and pantry level

Abstract

Families living in poverty in the United States rely on earnings, federal government programmes, the emergency food system (EFS) and a variety of informal networks to get adequate nutrition. The EFS is a large network of emergency food operations (EFOs) that serve as a supplement both for people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and for those requiring food aid who do not qualify for government assistance. The static view of the distribution of EFOs across 11 counties in south-central Indiana typically employed by policymakers and non-governmental organizations shows this largely rural area to be well covered. However, when examined by the time of day and day of month that EFOs in the region operate, coverage proves illusory. Here, we map and analyse the spatiotemporal availability of services offered by these EFOs and develop measures of availability of EFOs, dependent on EFO open hours, service area limitations and numbers of food-insecure individuals. This allows policymakers and non-governmental organizations to better gauge the adequacy of the EFS within a given region.

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Fig. 1: Location of EFOs analysed.
Fig. 2: FIIP expressed in quantiles for the counties in south-central Indiana.
Fig. 3: Small-multiples mapping of the space–time variation in pantry openings for south-central Indiana EFOs on a 28-day cycle.
Fig. 4: PAI scores for south-central Indiana EFOs.
Fig. 5: IAI scores for south-central Indiana census tracts.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request or at https://cfslab.weebly.com/data.html.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

K.H.K. served as the principal researcher, writer and project manager. K.J.K., B.P.H., J.B. and H.F.D. provided GIS and animation products. K.M.L. provided data collection. L.P.R.P. and K.C. provided the literature review. C.V.A. and E.L.N. provided data analytics. K.R.L. provided statistical analysis. S.M.R. and D.C.K. co-developed the two indices—PAI and IAI—used here. A.M.B. and D.C.K. provided managerial support and writing assistance and underwrote the cost of this study.

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Correspondence to Daniel C. Knudsen.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1 and 2, Tables 1 and 2, discussion and references.

Supplementary Video 1

Animation of pantry open hours by week, day of week and time of day.

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Kaplan, K.H., Kirk, K.J., Lich, K.M. et al. Accessibility to emergency food systems in south-central Indiana evaluated by spatiotemporal indices of pressure at county and pantry level. Nat Food 1, 284–291 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0079-9

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