Ogden’s ‘Food Desert’ Discussed at Annual Research Symposium
OGDEN, Utah –A Weber State University geography student hoped to find Ogden’s low-income citizens accessing Ogden’s Historic 25th Street Farmers Market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead her research revealed shoppers of a different class.
“I found that even though the market is close to impoverished neighborhoods, the people who live there are not utilizing it,” said Shauna Wolfgram, a WSU senior. “Ogden has a large ‘food desert,’ which means low-income residents have to travel more than 1 mile to access fresh food at a grocery store or produce vendor.”
Wolgram is one of the students who will present findings at WSU’s ninth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium and Celebration, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Building.
The symposium offers a forum for students to present their research findings and share experiences with the campus and community. The event will include approximately 130 students delivering 25 oral presentations, two performing arts presentations and a record number of 70 poster presentations. The work represents a broad cross section of departments and disciplines, including music, health and zoology.
In the course of her research, Wolfgram surveyed 66 people at the farmers market and found they were mostly female, white, highly educated and with an annual income of more than $60,000 per year.
“The food desert population is not participating in this great resource, and we need to ask why?” Wolfgram said. “With incidences of diabetes and obesity high in low-income individuals, we need to figure out a way to promote the market as a healthy food source close to their homes.”
According to Wolfgram, this is the first study done on the Ogden farmers market. “Other food desert populations, such as Hispanic communities within Los Angeles, are utilizing farmers markets as a food-shopping option,” Wolfgram said. “A UCLA study showed high attendance by these populations and indicated that the markets are a celebrated cultural and family event. Maybe we could use their model and reach out to those populations here, making it a viable option for accessing fresh foods.”
Hoping her research will encourage Ogden city leaders to expand promotional efforts, Wolfgram has shared her findings with organizers of the market.
“We need to find a way for vendors to accept food-stamp cards and vouchers for the Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) program,” Wolfgram said. “If they know it is accessible to them, they may utilize it.”
In addition to the WSU Undergraduate Research Symposium, Wolfgram will present her findings in April at the Association of American Geographers Conference in Los Angeles.
The public is invited to view the posters and attend question-and-answer sessions at the symposium. Oral presentations will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Students presenting posters will take questions from noon to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Atrium. A complete schedule and additional information are available at weber.edu/OUR.