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An exploration of solutions for improving access to affordable fresh food with disadvantaged Welsh communities

Wang, Yingli; Touboulic, Anne; O'Neill, Martin


Yingli Wang

Martin O'Neill


Our research is rooted in community operational research (community OR) and adopts a qualitative problem structuring approach to exploring potential solutions for addressing inequality in access to affordable healthy food in disadvantaged communities in Wales, UK. Existing food provisions are synthesised and barriers to their effectiveness are identified. A portfolio of actions and commitment packages is co-developed with multiple stakeholders in order to bring about desired changes. Although these solutions address concerns specific to local Welsh communities, they can be generalised and applied in similar settings where food desert problems prevail. We draw upon insights from the literature on inequality, food deserts, and social capital to conceptualise the solutions around both material (providing and accessing) and social (reconnecting and strengthening) aspects. By addressing both material and social aspects simultaneously, we show how community-driven intervention can contribute to reducing inequality in disadvantaged communities. Our research experience reveals that COR is particularly effective in tackling a ‘wicked’ problem such as food deserts, and allows researchers to engage with communities, gain an understanding about the problematic situation and guide intervention efforts in a sustainable and systemic manner. A number of methodological reflections are offered as a way to contribute to the development of the field as a whole.


Wang, Y., Touboulic, A., & O'Neill, M. (2018). An exploration of solutions for improving access to affordable fresh food with disadvantaged Welsh communities. European Journal of Operational Research, 268(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 6, 2017
Publication Date Aug 1, 2018
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 6, 2017
Journal European Journal of Operational Research
Print ISSN 0377-2217
Electronic ISSN 0377-2217
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 268
Issue 3
Keywords Community operational research, Inequality, Food deserts Soft OR, Social capital
a b s t r a c t Our
Public URL
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