tions and discussed possible causal pathways related to place, along with a summary review of the literature. He concluded his presentation by describing methodological challenges, prioritizing next steps, and suggesting discussion questions that he said were intended to seed later conversations.

Allard noted considering how place and contextual factors relate to food security and hunger is similar to an issue of supply and demand. Supply issues relate to where stores, retailers, and food assistance providers locate. Demand issues relate to how food needs and preferences are spatially distributed within a community. One open question is whether food security is the right outcome variable for thinking about place effects, as he said place and contextual factors might matter in both direct and indirect ways. Most of the studies in the literature do not address child food insecurity and place effects, which he termed a data limitation for two reasons. First, there are very few, if any, studies that can locate child food insecurity in space and model place effects. Second, the lack of data on food security that can locate individuals or households in space is a major limitation confronting all research on food security and place effects. Part of the lack is sample size and part of it is how the problem has been conceptualized.

The poverty literature has addressed why place matters, but it is difficult to unravel place effects from self-selection issues. Food behavior and food outcomes have a spatial component, and spatially correlated phenomena may have a causal component. Food resources and food assistance are located and embedded in space. Where a person lives affects the kinds of grocery stores and kinds of food assistance programs that might be nearby.

Although much of the research has been focused on food deserts, other aspects of place matter as well, as he detailed in his background paper (Allard, 2013:1). Understanding how spatial context shapes food security can mean a number of things, he suggested, and could mean an improved understanding of household and child food security. For example, around the same time that the food security measure was developed, there was a discussion about community food security measures, with a community food security concept embodied in a tool developed by the Economic Research Service (ERS).2 Understanding how communities are food secure might help establish long-term household and child food security with the idea that food assistance programs are short-term solutions to these issues. Understanding place could also provide better insight into how individuals and households cope, as well as provide


2See http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/efan-electronic-publications-from-the-food-assistance-nutrition-research-program/efan02013.aspx [August 12, 2013].

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