Tufts Research Group on Food Access at Dollar Stores

Dollar stores are increasingly becoming a major source for grocery purchases for many American households. Our team has been studying dollar store food purchase for the past three years and is well-positioned to be the leader of this emerging field. We are one of the first teams to study dollar store linkages to health, and there is a vast need of more dollar store food purchase studies, an issue of growing importance with more families facing food insecurity in the wake of the pandemic.

Our investigative team includes, but is not limited to:

Dr. Wenhui Feng, Tufts Health Plan Professor of Health Care Policy Research and Assistant Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine; Dr. Sean Cash, Associate Professor and the Bergstrom Foundation Professor in Global Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; Dr. Sara Folta, Associate Professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Policy and the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, both at Tufts University;Dr. Lauren Chenarides, Assistant Professor at the Morrison School of Agribusiness in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University; and Dr. Elina Page, an agricultural economist in the Food Economics Division of USDA’s Economic Research Service. More information about our team can be found on here.

With a USDA Cooperative Agreement awarded to in 2020, we secured access to USDA’s proprietary data of nationally representative consumer purchase behavior records. We presented preliminary findings in the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2021 annual meeting and a NIH-sponsored workshop on Food Insecurity, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Nutrition Health Disparities, and received a best poster award at this workshop. Our team has also undertaken a qualitative study investigating consumer behavior of low-income consumers in California and Massachusetts at dollar stores during the pandemic that has informed the generation of the hypotheses to be tested in the currently proposed work. More information about our team’s research can be found here.

Recently, with a small grant awarded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Tufts hosted the FADS Workshop on June 3rd and 4th, 2022. The workshop brought together economists, public health and nutrition researchers, graduate students, and other attendees to address the concerns and questions raised by the growth of dollar stores, and their increased role in food retail and access. The workshop provided our team with the opportunity to highlight its work and illustrate leadership in this area of study, and also provided an opportunity for us to meet potential collaborators and generate new research ideas.