Banner image for FRESH-AUSTIN

Food Retail: Evaluating Strategies for a Healthy Austin (FRESH-AUSTIN) aims to further evaluation of the City of Austin's Healthy Food Access Initiative, and increase understanding of the complexities within a community food system. The study will use a longitudinal study design to assess the initiative's impact on fruit and vegetable  (F&V) purchasing, consumption, food security, and weight status among East Austin residents. And through the use of agent-based modeling will layer new and existing data sets to simulate the individual and joint impact of the different access strategies on food purchasing behaviors, and to understand the inter-relations and inter-dependencies of the various environmental and individual factors that contribute to and/or detract people from accessing healthy foods.

FRESH Austin’s goal is to understand how inter-related and inter-dependent food access interventions can lead to sustainable solutions that promote health and increase economic opportunities. The study involves a multilevel community-wide evaluation, that will make use of a variety of assessment instruments including self-report tools, audits, accelerometers and GPS. A second major component of the study will be the development of an agent-based model.

Longitudinal study

  • Participants: 400 adults in the Austin/Travis County area
  • Project length: 3 years
  • Measurements: yearly survey assessing food purchasing and consumption, and associated behaviors, as well as BMI and food security among confirmed users of new food access points, exposed users to new access points (per residential location), and control (unexposed) participants

Cross-sectional studies

  • Survey participants of SFC’s The Happy Kitchen nutrition education series (30 people once a year for 3 years)
  • Environmental audits of new food access points
  • Assess food, social and transit neighborhood environment and community design


Alexandra van den Berg, PhD, MPH

Nalini Ranjit, PhD

Deborah Salvo, PhD

Nika Akhavan, MPH

Martha Diaz

Kathryn Janda, MPH

Christine Jovanovic, MPH

Aida Nielsen, MPH

Shelby Flores-Thorpe, MPH

Photo of Nika Akhavan

Nika Akhavan, MPH

Research Assistant, GAVA Evaluation Study Photo of Martha Diaz Marin

Martha Diaz Marin

Research Assistant, GAVA Evaluation Study Photo of Alexandra (Sandra) van den Berg

Alexandra (Sandra) van den Berg, MPH, PhD

Principal Investigator, GAVA Evaluation Study; Co-Investigator, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation Photo of Aida Nielsen

Aida Nielsen, MPH

Project Director, GAVA Evaluation Study Photo of Nalini Ranjit

Nalini Ranjit, PhD

Principal Investigator, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation; Co-Principal Investigator, GAVA Evaluation Study