Archive for Food Systems, Nutrition Security, and Agriculture

Facility locations in the fresh produce supply chain: An integration of optimization and empirical methods

Facility locations are crucial determinants of supply chain efficiency for aggregating and distributing products. The multi-disciplinary nature of the facility location problem requires multiple complementary approaches, at different levels of aggregation, to accommodate the salient features of location determinants. This study examines the facility location problem for the U.S. fresh produce supply chain. We present a model that incorporates an empirical scenario into a facility location problem in order to capture much of the information required to make an optimal location decision. Our results suggest that the reliability of facility locations can be improved without significantly increasing the operating costs. This study sheds light on how the application of complementary modeling approaches improves the effectiveness of facility location solutions.

Authors: Houtian Ge, Stephan J. Goetz, Rebecca Cleary, Jing Yi, Miguel Gómez

Publication: International Journal of Production Economics   Date Published: July 1, 2022

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Food Insufficiency and Twitter Emotions During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic initially caused worldwide concerns about food insecurity. Tweets analyzed in real-time may help food assistance providers target food supplies to where they are most urgently needed. In this exploratory study, we use natural language processing to extract sentiments and emotions expressed in food security-related tweets early in the pandemic in U.S. states. The emotion joy dominated in these tweets nationally, but only angerdisgust, and fear were also statistically correlated with contemporaneous food insufficiency rates reported in the Household Pulse Survey; more nuanced and statistically stronger correlations are detected within states, including a negative correlation with joy.

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz, Connor Heaton, Muhammad Imran, Yuxuan Pan, Zheng Tian, Claudia Schmidt, Umair Qazi, Ferda Ofli, and Prasenjit Mitra

Publication: Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy   Date Published: April 3, 2022


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The Role of Community Food Services in Reducing U.S. Food Insufficiency in the COVID-19 Pandemic

We use state-level Census Household Pulse Survey data to examine the role of community food
services such as food banks and pantries in reducing food insufficiency during the COVID-19
pandemic in the United States. Food insufficiency increased for all income classes during the
pandemic, and especially for the lower and middle classes. We adopt a fixed effects filtered
estimator to estimate the coefficients on time-invariant regressors in a fixed effects panel model.
Estimation results suggest community food services contribute to mitigating food insufficiency,
especially for the middle class and in the early months of the pandemic.

Authors: Zheng Tian, Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J Goetz

Publication: Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics   Date Published: October 1, 2021


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The Conversation: More Americans couldn’t get enough to eat in 2020 – a change that hit the middle class hardest

Americans in households with annual incomes from $50,000 to $75,000 experienced the sharpest increase in food insufficiency when the COVID-19 pandemic began – meaning that many people in the middle class didn’t have enough to eat at some point within the previous seven days, according to our peer-reviewed study that will soon be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Authors: Zheng Tian, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: The Conversation   Date Published: September 23, 2021


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Data Report: U.S. Household Food Insufficiency Falls Below Pre-Pandemic Level

NERCRD COVID-19 Data Report 21-02: This data brief was released in September 2021, and focuses on U.S. food insufficiency rates at that time, relative to food insufficiency rates before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. food insufficiency rates have fallen to levels below those in the year prior to the pandemic.

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz, Yuxuan Pan, Jason Entsminger, Zheng Tian

Publication: NERCRD, Penn State University   Date Published: September 8, 2021

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Female farmers in the United States: Research needs and policy questions

The literature on women in agricultural production in developing countries is vast. While female farmers in the United States have recently received more attention, their general characteristics and practices pursued have not received as much consideration by agricultural economists. Here we examine U.S. female farmers’ characteristics and factors associated with county level female farm shares using Census data. We find that these shares are higher near metropolitan core counties and that their presence is associated with agritourism activity as well as horticultural and small livestock production. We conclude with several policy questions and future research needed to assess the roles and impacts of female farm operators in the U.S.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J. Goetz, Zheng Tian

Publication: Science Direct   Date Published: May 1, 2021

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Data Brief: Pennsylvania Food Insufficiency Reached New High at the End of 2020

NERCRD Covid-19 Data Report 21-01: The share of Pennsylvania households in which hunger is a problem has increased to the highest rate since the data were first collected at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, the share of adults in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last seven days reached a new high of 12.7% on December 19, 2020, just slightly below the national rate on that day (12.9%). In this report we also show how families have adapted to this crisis by accessing free food and how households with different incomes have been affected by rising food insecurity.

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz; Zheng Tian; Claudia Schmidt; Yuxuan Pan

Publication: NERCRD COVID-19 Issues Brief Series   Date Published: February 12, 2021

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If You Build Them… Will it Matter? Food Stores’ Presence and Perceived Barriers to Purchasing Healthy Foods in the Northeastern U.S.

Policies incentivizing store entry or store improvements are aimed at increasing access to healthy foods; however, findings about their effectiveness to improve diets are mixed. Similarly, little is known about whether food stores’ presence affects consumers’ perceived barriers to purchasing healthy foods, which reflect the subjective hardships experienced by shoppers to purchase and consume healthier foods. In this study, we assess the relationship between the two most widely studied perceived barriers to purchasing healthy foods (price and availability) and the local retail food environment using individual-level survey data collected across the northeastern US and census data on the numbers of grocery stores and warehouse clubs and supercenters. Our results indicate that unobserved heterogeneity plays an important role in determining the sign and magnitude of the relationship between store presence and perceptions. The likelihood that an individual cites price or availability as a perceived barrier depends upon the barrier considered, whether respondents live in the zip code where they shop, and the method of controlling for unobserved heterogeneity. Thus, policies focusing on improving access to a given store type may only mitigate some of the negative perceptions associated with one’s food environment.

Authors: Lauren Chenarides, Alessandro Bonanno, Anne Palmer

Publication: Applied Economics Perspective and Policy   Date Published: October 12, 2020

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Google Searches Reveal Changing Consumer Food Sourcing in the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this commentary published in 2021, we examine how consumer interest changed since the advent of the pandemic, by observing Google search trends.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J. Goetz, Sarah Rocker, Zheng Tian

Publication: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development   Date Published: May 21, 2020


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Americans’ Food Spending Patterns Explain Devastating Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s Food Expenditures by Outlet data provide insight as to why the lockdowns related to COVID-19 have been so devastating for U.S. farmers.

Authors: Stephan J. Goetz, Claudia Schmidt, Lisa Chase, Jane Kolodinsky

Publication: Journal of Food Systems, Agriculture, and Community Development   Date Published: May 21, 2020

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