Food Access in Low-Income Northern California Communities: Understanding and Overcoming Obstacles (2013-2014)


  • San Mateo County Health System


  • 23 low-income, ethnically diverse senior citizens


  • Identify and prioritize the facilitators and barriers to food access and availability


  • Identified the need for more variety and better pricing for healthy foods
  • Changed street signage and repairs were made to dangerous street curbs, which in turn, improved traffic safety at the affordable senior housing site
  • Formation of a Senior Advocacy Team (SAT) that held an open forum at the housing site, to which city and county policymakers were invited
  • Attended the 5th Annual Affordable Senior Housing Resident Advocacy Day in Sacramento, CA where SAT members met with legislators and advocated for increased funding for affordable senior housing
  • 3 months after implementation, 84% of the participating citizen scientists reported that their experience had led them to contact a local policy maker, use a new community service (e.g., food stamps and shuttle service), and/or share information with a friend.


Sheats JL, Winter SJ, Romero PP, King AC. FEAST: Empowering Community Residents to Use Technology to Assess and Advocate for Healthy Food Environments. Journal of Urban Health, 2017.

Sheats JL, Winter SJ, Padilla-Romero P, King AC. FEAST (Food Environment Assessment using the Stanford Tool): development of a mobile application to crowdsource resident interactions with the food environment. Ann Behav Med.2014;47:S264 (abstract).

Our Voice Impact

"This experience has changed my life.  I see inadequacies everywhere I go as it relates to pedestrian access and safety.  I even stop [at] construction sites to remind them to be considerate of the handicapped in our community.  Thank you all so much for this awareness and empowerment to require change."

~ Pam Jiner, GirlTrek Advocacy Leader, Denver CO