Low-income enclaves with large immigrant populations can enjoy a higher level of food security than other poor communities in the United States, thanks largely to the fresh fruits and vegetables available at ethnic and farmers markets. But food systems in these areas remain fragile, and local institutions have a role to play in seeing that they are not compromised. Those are the conclusions drawn from a multi-year study of food security in City Heights, a multiethnic community in San Diego where researchers from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy conducted focus groups to learn residents’ perceptions of the availability of healthy foods in their community. Participants in the seven focus groups, which were conducted in 2014–2015, included recent immigrants (less than a decade) and long-term residents and represented a variety of groups — black, white, Latino, Vietnamese, Somali, and Burmese. Contrary to the expectations of a panel of experts from local food-service organizations, focus-group members generally agreed they could easily shop for healthy foods in City Heights. However, language and low incomes are potential barriers to healthy eating that cannot be ignored.
Policy Brief: Ethnic Food Access and Barriers