Examining Food Insecurity Using the American Housing Survey

You may have heard the term “food desert” tossed around in conversation lately. But what does it mean? In 2010, an estimated 29.7 million Americans lived in low-income areas and were more than one mile away from a grocery store (Ver Ploeg et al., 2012). To see if the area you live in is considered a food desert, visit the Food Access Research Atlas at USDA.gov.

Lawmakers, physicians, non-profits, farmers and a host of other professionals have started to recognize the importance of this problem. Even the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has made it her mission through her Let’s Move! campaign to combat hunger and encourage the consumption of healthier food in order to have a more active lifestyle. Access to food has been studied for its potential health risks, such as obesity and respiratory problems.[1] Attention has also been paid to the characteristics of those who are in food deserts and indicate that African American and low-income households are less likely to have grocery stores nearby.[2]

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) American Housing Survey (AHS), provides a national data set that can be used to explore the issue of access to grocery stores. The AHS is a national survey currently conducted in odd-numbered years. In 2003, the AHS began asking people whether or not they had a grocery or drug store within one mile of their home. The same question was asked in 2005.

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Gender Inequality Visualizations

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we at DASIL have found some great visualizations on the web that speak to gender inequality. At DASIL, we do host a few visualizations that speak to economic inequality in the US, but we’d like to highlight some other areas of inequality here.

The New York Times found that more men named John are C.E.O.s than all female C.E.O.s combined. They also explore the breakdown of gender in Congress.

UN’s Global Pulse has a great map showing the number of tweets about various topics—including gender inequality, education, and discrimination. It’s a great way to look at global opinion on many issues.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations put together an interactive map of various statistics from the Gender Landrights Database. The link here will show you the percent of female agricultural holders in various countries.

Finally, at DASIL we have several visualizations that point to other factors of gender inequality. Two striking ones are Mean Income by Age, Race, and Gender, and Hourly Wages by Education and Gender. Each of these interactive graphs will let you select which combinations of variables you’d like to compare.

Wages by Education and Gender comparing females with a high school education and females with no high school degree

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