In partnership with the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida (USF), the Transportation
Innovation Group informed practical transportation solutions aimed at improved food access in Tampa Bay (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco
counties). The food pantry/bank sites that are part of Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger (TBNTEH) helped to gather data through a survey
and interviews of food-related organizational leadership, staff and volunteers from each site to gain insight into how clients currently access
emergency food sites (qualitative). This information was supplemented with a GIS analysis of transit accessibility for the food insecure in
Tampa Bay (quantitative).
Funding for this project was provided, in part, by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) at Portland State
University. This project entitled “Travel to Food: Transportation Barriers for the Food Insecure in Tampa Bay” fits with the NITC’s theme of
safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities in the following ways:
• Identify gaps in the transportation system for vulnerable communities;
• Lead to focused solutions to improve access to healthy food;
• Lead to added sustainable transportation options; and
• Access to food is an essential precursor to livability.
Background: The dominance of the automobile in the southeast has impacted the urban and suburban built environment, resulting in barriers to
transportation access. The vulnerability of the food insecure makes them an indicator population of the larger transportation system; mobility
and housing location options are limited for this population. The grocery industry’s trend toward larger stores and higher-value inventory to
maximize shelf space value has left lower-income neighborhoods with fewer food retail options. The lack of food access is experienced more
acutely in lower-income neighborhoods where auto ownership is lower and dependence on alternative modes of transportation (e.g., transit, bike
and walking) is higher.