comes, as well as examining which interventions have the greatest potential to improve conditions.


The 2008 Farm Bill directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to undertake a study of food deserts in the United States to assess their incidence and prevalence, to identify characteristics and factors causing and influencing food deserts and their effect on local populations, and to provide recommendations for addressing the causes and effects. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is the lead agency on this effort and is collaborating with other agencies within USDA, such as the Food and Nutrition Service and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. Legislation also instructed USDA to work with other organizations, including the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC).


At the request of ERS, the IOM and the NRC convened a workshop to examine the public health implications of food deserts and to examine promising strategies for mitigating their impacts (see Box 1-1 for the Statement of Task). A six-person planning committee1 was appointed by the IOM and the NRC, and biographical sketches of the planning committee are found in Appendix A. To address the Statement of Task, the planning committee developed a meeting agenda, found in Appendix B, and identified and invited experts to provide presentations at the workshop. Biographical sketches of the invited speakers and the session moderators are found in Appendix C. The workshop agenda was organized as a representative but not exhaustive overview of food deserts: It examined current research findings on the public health impacts of food deserts and explored ways to potentially mitigate those impacts.

At the January 26-27, 2009, workshop in Washington, DC, invited speakers gave presentations on how multidisciplinary approaches can be used to measure where and how food deserts occur as well as potential health impacts and strategies to ameliorate them. The invited speakers based their presentations primarily on their research or perceptions of research in the field. Speakers also addressed the common premise that increasing the availability of healthy foods will affect diet and produce health outcomes. The results of some research interventions and promis-


The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop; this summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred.

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