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In Binghamton, which is home to the Northside and First Ward food deserts, food insecurity is a significant community concern. Many emergency food aid networks operate in Binghamton, such as community pantries, the Binghamton Food Rescue, North Side Mutual Aid, and CHOW to address immediate needs; however, long-term food security requires removing barriers to food access, such as inadequate transportation. Food-insecure people without personal transportation either try to navigate public transportation, or choose to use more proximate outlets that may lack nutritious foods. Public transportation provided through the Broome County Bus System is limited in the scope of bus routes, schedules, and how many bags of groceries one can carry at once. To better understand how to improve public transportation for Binghamton’s Northside residents, and especially the food-insecure population, I study whether the Broome County Transit System adequately meets transportation needs for its Northside to facilitate food access. I identify limitations of the Broome County bus system by conversing with community members and people working in food aid, reviewing Census maps, and studying the transportation system in relation to the location of food outlets. I also survey shoppers at the newly-opened Greater Good Grocery, the first grocery in the Northside food desert since 1996, about their transportation and grocery needs. I find that those without personal transportation tend to rely on food aid, less nutritious food outlets, or more expensive services like Grubhub. The opening of the Greater Good Grocery seems to be a good first step to improve access to food in the Northside for those nearby without personal transportation. Targeted community transportation initiatives such as restructured bus and CHOW mobile market routes would help further improve food access, and protect those who may become food insecure because of unforeseen financial stresses.


Created for 2021 Research Days Source Project "People, Politics, and the Environment."