Agents of Change article by Food Lab alum Maryam Khojasteh released in Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition

The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab is pleased to announce the release of a new article in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition.  By Maryam Khojasteh and Samina Raja, ‘Agents of Change: How Immigrant-Run Ethnic Food Retailers Improve Food Environments’ documents the factors that enable immigrant entrepreneurs to operate healthy food stores in urban neighborhoods. The authors use in-depth interviews to highlight how Middle Eastern food entrepreneurs are changing the healthy food landscape in Buffalo, NY.  Findings suggest that ethnic food retail entrepreneurs are positively deviant in the urban food system, becoming positive agents of change by successfully provided fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods with low food access.  Although ethnic food entrepreneurs overcome numerous documented barriers, they have significant potential to improve neighborhoods who are not served by other healthy food retail. The article concludes with suggestions for how local government policy makers, planners, and public health practitioners can better support immigrant ethnic food entrepreneurs. With the right policy supports, healthy ethnic food stores can be a source of economic and community development for both immigrant and non-immigrant neighborhoods. Click on the link below to read the full article.

Agents of Change How Immigrant Run Ethnic Food Retailers Improve Food Environments

Article Abstract:

Immigrant-run ethnic food retail stores, which are often located in urban neighborhoods, are reported to provide healthy foods. Yet, there is little research on how these stores manage to operate successfully in low-resource environments, which are reported to have poor access to healthy foods, and the challenges they must overcome in a broken food system. Based on a qualitative pilot case study of Middle Eastern stores in Buffalo, New York, the authors report factors that enable immigrant entrepreneurs to operate healthy food retail stores in low-income urban neighborhoods and the challenges they must overcome in the process. Factors for success include store owners’ membership in ethnic networks, prior business experience, and understanding of niche market opportunities. This article reports policy suggestions for how local governments can help ethnic food retailers to create healthier food environments and foster economic and community development.