Navigating the urban food environment: Challenges and resilience of community-dwelling older adults

Corrine E. Munoz-Plaza, Kimberly B. Morland, Jennifer A. Pierre, Arlene Spark, Susan E. Filomena, Philip Noyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: Identify factors involved in food shopping among older urban adults. Design: A qualitative study of 30 in-depth interviews and 15 "tagalong" shopping trip observations were conducted. Setting: Brooklyn, New York. Participants: Black, white, and Latino men and women aged 60-88 years. Main Outcome Measure: Transcripts were coded inductively to identify emergent themes. Results: Older adults shopped at multiple stores to obtain the quality of foods preferred at prices that fit their food budgets. Participants often traveled outside their neighborhoods to accomplish this, and expressed dissatisfaction with the foods locally available. Adaptive food shopping behaviors included walking or the use of public transit to purchase food in small batches, as well as reliance on community resources and social network members. Conclusions and Implications: Participants identified a number of multilayered factors and challenges involved in procuring food. These factors conform to elements of ecological behavioral models described as intrapersonal, social, and environmental level influences and have resulted in adaptive behaviors for this population. These findings provide evidence that can be used to develop more effective programs, as well as promote testable interventions aimed at keeping older adults independent and capable of acquiring food that meets their age-specific needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-331
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Environment
  • Minorities
  • Nutrition
  • Older adults
  • Urban


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