Tools & Resources

Growing a Healthier Food System Survey Results (August)

Text It Forward Text It Forward is a new engagement campaign launched by One Region Forward that seeks to further broaden community engagement. The campaign utilizes a SMS-based survey tool that allows citizens to text their responses to questions that will inform One Region Forward’s planning.


August 2014: Growing a Healthier Food System 
Issues connected with our current food system are the existence of “food deserts” in low-income neighborhoods, the urbanization of farmland, the poor financial health of local food enterprises, and the lack of connections between farms and markets. Citizens answered questions on how they thought we should improve our food access and production. 

TIFAug_rightdirectionQuestion #1: Do you think Buffalo Niagara is moving in the right direction?

A. Yes
B. No
C. Other

The majority of citizens responded that Buffalo Niagara is moving in the right direction.



TIFAug_foodaccessQuestion #2: On a scale of 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy), how easy is it to access healthy, affordable food in Buffalo Niagara?

Citizens could respond with any number between 1 and 5.

A majority of citizens (75%) responded that healthy, affordable food was at least somewhat difficult to access in our region. Only 25% of respondents thought it was easy or very easy to access the same food.





TIFAug_barriersQuestion #3: What’s the biggest barrier to accessing healthy food in our region?

A. Stores don’t stock it
B. Limited transit
C. High prices
C. Other

Citizens were somewhat split on what they thought the biggest barrier to accessing healthy food in our region was. The largest percentage of citizens (36%) thought that the lack of affordable, healthy options was the biggest barrier. Several citizens who responded with the other optioned mentioned the importance of educating the public on what is considered healthy and what is not.


TIFAug_increaseaccessQuestion #4: What do you think is the best way to increase access to healthy food?

A. Farmers Markets
B. Healthy Corner Stores
C. Lower Prices
C. Other

Almost half of citizens (48%) responded that the best way to increase access to healthy foods was to have corner stores and convenient stores carry more fresh, affordable produce. For many individuals, especially those that live in the city, it’s much easier for them to do their shopping at a store that is a few blocks from them home vs. a supermarket that may be several miles away.

TIFAug_foodproductionQuestion #5: On a scale of 1 (not important) to 5 (very important), how important is it for our region to grow more of its own produce?

Citizens could respond with any number between 1 and 5.

A majority of citizens (59%) responded that they thought it was very important that our region grow more of its own produce. According to data from our region, only 26 percent of Erie County residents and 27 percent of Niagara County residents consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily while the region grows only 38 percent of the fruits and vegetables our population would need to consume to follow the USDA’s healthy-eating guidelines. Many linked the fact that produce shipped from out of the region is often more expensive, creating a barrier to access.


TIFAug_growmoreQuestion #6: How can we make it easier for our region to grow more of its own food?

This is an open ended question that citizens were asked to respond to by naming a specific natural resource in our region that should be restored and/or protected and then explain why.

A word cloud was generated from the citizens’ responses. The size of the words are dependent on how often they appeared as a response. Words that are the largest appeared most often. Many citizens stressed the importance of preserving our prime farmland for future generation and limiting the amount of development in agricultural areas. Others thought that incentives to make farming a more lucrative sector were necessary. Many respondents also thought that community gardens and urban farms could help better connect residents living in food deserts with local, affordable produce.

To download the full data set from August’s survey please click here. Help us continue to get the word out about Text It Forward by visiting our Share It Forward Toolkit.