Food|Comida|Rawl 317 is using mixed methods to collect several types of data. Methods include focus groups, surveys, and spatial data visualization and analysis. Round 1 of data collection involves four elements: a consumer survey, focus groups with food system stakeholders, a food store survey, and food system asset mapping.
A consumer survey has been live on the FCR317 website since December 2020 and will be open until a representative sample is reached. This consumer survey is gathering experiences of the Indianapolis food system regarding grocery shopping, eating out/in, preparing food at home, healthy eating, and household access to food.
It will provide a better understanding of the challenges experienced by eaters in Indianapolis and their hopes for improving the Indianapolis food system. The survey is available in English, Spanish, and Hakha Chin.
So far, we have heard from 524 households and have good representation from people who identify as White or Asian, age 25-65, female, with an annual household income above $65,000 and a bachelor’s or other advanced educational degrees. We have also heard from households in every city-county district, though some are much more represented than others.
We still need more representation from the following people (updated August 2021):
AGE: under 25, over 66
SEX/GENDER: males, non-binary
RACE/ETHNICITY: Black or African American, Hispanic
HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $25,000-65,000
EDUCATION: Less than a bachelor’s degree
LOCATION: Districts 14 & 22 (46219, 46221, 46222, 46226, 46229, 46231, 46235, 46241)
Round 1 focus groups with food system stakeholders were hosted in January-February 2021. These focused group discussions gathered affinity groups to learn more about the challenges, successes and connections between food system actors and businesses in Indianapolis, with a focus on identifying the root causes of food system issues. Round 2 focus groups will focus on the most common food system issues and associated solutions and strategies to developing the Indianapolis food system.
PRELIMINARY RESULTS FROM ROUND 1 FOCUS GROUPS:
Most Common Issues Experienced by Indianapolis Food System Stakeholder:
- 15 of 18 focus groups articulated challenges with access to resources.
- Stakeholders most often lack the labor needed to access resources.
- Many experience transportation and mobility barriers to accessing resources.
- Small retailers and non-English speakers experience additional technological and language barriers.
POLICIES AND REGULATIONS
- 15 of 18 focus groups mentioned challenges related to policy.
- Community voices and lived experiences are absent from the policy process.
- Regulations are largely unsupportive of small retailers and local farmers.
- Many struggle to interpret regulations because of vague and/or complicated language.
- Changing policy is challenging when the necessary data are lacking or is proprietary and/or confidential.
FOOD ACCESS AND ASSISTANCE
- 15 of 18 focus groups discussed challenges with food access or assistance.
- The inequitable landscape of food access in Indianapolis is rooted in poverty and systemic racism.
- Common barriers to accessing food include:
- transportation and mobility
- Additional barriers include:
- language and communication
- fear of government
- lack of education
- 14 of 18 focus groups mentioned a lack of communication within the food system.
- Stakeholders often point to organizational/informational silos and the lack of a central communication hub.
- Challenges connecting to resources, especially labor, contribute to the lack of communication.
- Increased reliance on the internet and related technology has reinforced some silos while breaking through others.
- 14 of 18 focus groups commented on how these common issues above lead to a lack of collaboration and coordination.
- Stakeholder groups are often competing for the same resources.
- Collaboration is especially lacking around policy change and root cause work, yet is strong around food assistance.
- Coordination is particularly challenging because of the lack of communication within the food system and with other social sectors.
FOOD STORE SURVEY
A survey of 838 food stores in Indianapolis, authorized as SNAP retailers, is being conducted in 2021. This survey collects information on food availability, quality and prices. Survey results will be visualized and analyzed to better understand the food access landscape in Indianapolis and identify underserved areas.
Alongside the surveys and focus groups, we are developing a food system asset map that visualizes and enables spatial analysis of existing resources in the Indianapolis food system and identifies service gaps therein. Components of the map include: food stores, food pantries, gardens, farmers’ markets, technical assistance providers, shared-use kitchens, and food movement organizations.