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P153 Spatial Analysis of Perinatal Food Assistance Resources in Relation to Food Deserts in North Carolina

      Background

      A number of risk factors can influence maternal and infant health including chronic conditions, health behaviors and prenatal care. Women with access to perinatal resources and healthy foods could limit the impact of these risk factors for the maternal and infant well-being. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a software used to capture, store, and analyze geographic data. The advantages of GIS allows understanding of maternal and perinatal food assistance gaps.

      Objectives

      To locate and map government food assistance perinatal resources such as WIC, SNAP Offices, WIC and SNAP approved vendors throughout North Carolina. Determine if there are spatial correlations between the density (ie number of physical locations at the census tract level) of food assistance clinics and approved retailers in comparison to areas classified as food deserts by the USDA (low access and low income designation). Assess the association between underlying population characteristics and WIC/SNAP locations.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Undergraduate research assistants from Appalachian State University's Nutrition Department compiled a comprehensive list of WIC clinics, WIC-approved vendors, SNAP offices and SNAP retailers available in North Carolina from Google™.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      These resources were geocoded to create a spatial distribution of the locations into ArcGIS Pro by ESRI by Appalachian State University's Geography/Planning Department. WIC and SNAP locations were spatially merged with USDA (food desert classification) and American Community Survey Data to create a relational GIS database. Bivariate map products and Kendall tau correlations were used to assess the association between underlying population characteristics and WIC/SNAP locations.

      Results

      Preliminary findings show limited WIC and SNAP office and retailer locations in rural, underserved locations with food deserts in NC. Spatially, variations in this association varies across the state with limited access in the far Eastern and Western regions of NC.

      Conclusions

      GIS and other simple spatial analysis allow for critical evaluation of WIC and SNAP offices/retailers and their relationship to food deserts, which could inform policies around support for more offices/retailers.

      Funding

      Internal Grant from University Research Council

      SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

      Supplementary data related to this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2022.04.194.

      Appendix. SUPPLEMENTARY DATA