Food melt in consumer food environments in low-income urban neighborhoods

Erika S. Trapl, Stephanie N. Pike, Elaine Borawski, Susan A. Flocke, Darcy A. Freedman, Colleen C. Walsh, Christine B.A. Schneider, Laura M.P.H. Yoder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We systematically evaluated changes in availability, price, and quality of perishable food items from the beginning to the end of the month in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Methods: The sample included grocery stores or supermarkets in Cleveland, Ohio, within neighborhoods with >30% of population receiving food assistance. We collected data for 2 sequential months during the first and fourth weeks of each month. Two coders evaluated stores, collecting measures of availability, price, and quality for 50 items. We examined difference in number and proportion of items available at the beginning of the month (BOM) to items remaining available at the end of the month (EOM), as well as quality and price of those items. Results: Across 48 stores, availability at EOM was lower than BOM; as store size increased, reduction in availability (ie, food melt) was significantly (p < .01) less pronounced. Overall, items became less expensive at the EOM whereas quality remained consistent; we noted no statistically significant differences by store type for price or quality. Conclusions: Food melt differentially affects individuals in neighborhoods without grocery stores. Findings reveal composition of food environments is dynamic rather than static, influencing food-purchasing choices among low-income consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-718
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Access
  • Food environment
  • Food stores
  • Low-income
  • SNAP
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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