Illinois PRC Researchers Publish Findings on Food and Beverage Availability in Healthy Food Financing Initiative Eligible (HFFI) Communities

Illinois Prevention Research Center researchers have published a paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This publication details findings from the Illinois PRC study assessing the impact of new Healthy Food Financing Initiative-supported supermarkets on the retail food environment in predominately African American and low-income communities in Chicago and Rockford. The Principal Investigator of this study is Dr. Lisa Powell, and the paper was led by Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton, an Illinois PRC postdoctoral research fellow.

In 2015, members of the research team collected information on food and beverage availability from 127 small food retail stores located in four communities in Chicago and Rockford. All four communities were eligible to receive funding from the HFFI program to support the development of new healthy food outlets. Food stores examined were small grocery stores and limited service stores such as gas stations, liquor stores, pharmacies, and dollar stores. The research team used the Illinois PRC Food Store Audit Tool to collect the data.

Results from the evaluation indicated that healthier foods and beverages had low availability in the small food retail stores. Among all stores, the average number of fruit options was 1.8, and the average number of fresh vegetable options was 2.9. Limited service stores carried significantly fewer fresh fruits and vegetables compared to small grocery stores. Few stores sold staple food items such as low-fat milk (i.e., skim or 1 percent), 100 percent whole wheat bread, and lean ground beef. Over 96 percent of stores offered soda and/or fruit juice.

Future findings from this project will document how the introduction of new HFFI-supported supermarkets will affect food and beverage availability over time in these communities.

To read the full paper, please visit the journal’s website.


About the image. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.




Dr. Chelsea R. Singleton has been a post-doctoral research fellow with the Illinois Prevention Research Center since 2015. Her research examines the influence food policy and food environment have on dietary intake and chronic disease risk. Her research is supported by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Cancer Institute.