Focus Groups Shed Light on Healthy Food Access Barriers in San Jose


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Food Empowerment Project held 3 focus groups to assess barriers to healthy eating in San Jose. Source:

Food Empowerment Project (FEP) is working to increase healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color in California. Their first community food assessment was in Santa Clara County in 2007, and they found many barriers keep Latinos from accessing healthy food, like affordability and availability. More recently, the group has released their findings from several focus groups in San Jose, hoping to understand what keeps folks in that community from accessing fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy fare.

FEP worked with the community organizations Somos Mayfair, Sacred Heart Community Services, and CommUniverCity, which recruited their members to participate in focus groups.

According to the report, three focus groups were conducted between January and February 2012, each lasting for approximately 1-2 hours. A total of 18 community members participated in the groups and were asked approximately 12 questions related to food access. Questions were asked in Spanish and transcripts were translated into English for data analysis.

Participants cited high or expensive food prices as the biggest barrier to access to foods in general. They also described how the lack of supermarkets near their work and homes influenced where they shopped and what they bought.

According to a local news article, when asked how access to foods can be increased, focus group participants’ most common response was the request for more information on farmers’ markets, nutrition, and how to prepare healthy foods. They also expressed interest in learning more about organic foods and the opportunity to grow their own foods at home or at community gardens.

The focus group informed a handful of insightful recommendations that would make San Jose a healthier place to live for many residents.

Click here to read the full report in English. Click here to read the report in Spanish. 

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