The built environment affects people’s access to food. It influences how food is distributed, purchased, and consumed, as well as the social and cultural norms around food. Understanding the relationship between the built environment and people’s everyday food behaviors can help cities identify key opportunities to make healthy food choices easier, convenient, and more inviting for all.
The Foodscape Assessment Toolkit, developed in collaboration with Gehl, is a step-by-step guide which contains four core elements to help local partners gain profound insights into the food environment within a neighborhood. It provides a combination of quantitative and qualitative observational research methods to build a narrative of how people experience food places, public life, and public space - also known as the foodscape.
Food places are where people get their food, including grocery stores, restaurants, food banks, corner stores, street vendors, farmers markets, and more. Ensuring a variety of food places with nutritious and accessible food offerings can promote healthy food choices.
Public life is the collective life of a city. It is what people create when they live life outside of their homes, workplaces, and cars. When people are invited to spend time in the public realm, share experiences, and connect with one another, cities become healthier, more vibrant places.
Public space is the city network on which public life takes place. It is the streets, plazas, parks, sidewalks, and other spaces between buildings. The presence of high-quality public space can foster community cohesion, promote public safety, and create the right conditions for healthy food behaviors.