Food availability and accessibility in the local food distribution system of a low-income, urban community in Worcester, in the Western Cape province
Objectives: The objective was to understand the local food distribution system in Avian Park, with a focus on food availability and accessibility.
Study design: This was a quantitative food store survey that employed semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions.
Setting: The study was conducted in Avian Park, situated in the Breede Valley, in the Western Cape province.
Subjects: Thirteen spaza shops, three chain supermarkets, three street vendors, two butchers, two wholesalers, a community café and a small, independent supermarket randomly selected from the community were included. Food retail outlet managers and community residents were also included.
Outcome measures: The outcome measures were food prices, availability, and access and quality.
Results: The café stocked 56% of the surveyed food items, spaza shops 66% and the supermarket 69%. Spaza shops stocked sweetened products, basic staples and processed food. A variety of vegetables was available at the café and supermarket, with less variety in the spaza shops. Processed and staple food was most expensive in the spaza shops, while fruit and vegetables were generally cheaper. Food prices were below the national average in all of the food categories, except for bread, cereals, grains, sweets and sugar. Interviews with shop owners indicated that fruit and vegetables were not kept because of spoilage, space limitations, storage issues and lack of transport. Focus group discussions with residents indicated a need for fruit, vegetables and meat outlets within walking distance.
Conclusion: Community food prices were not the main factor inhibiting food accessibility, but rather variety and quality
Keywords: food availability, food accessibility, community food security, food system