Researchers at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment are leading a five-year, $4 million study of disparities in access to healthy food across the state. The researchers will interview residents and study data in 18 small to mid-sized cities to better understand the factors affecting "food security," a socioeconomic term that defines easy access to safe and healthy food. And because urban agriculture is seen as part of the solution to food insecurity in cities, the researchers will study how locally grown food can more easily get to the poor, traditionally minority, populations most at risk. "The study will give us an opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of several types of food systems in the state," said Dorceta Taylor, a professor of environmental justice at SNRE and the project's lead investigator. "The study is unique in that we will examine aspects of the food system that are necessary to connect food to consumers more efficiently." Other universities involved in the federal grant are the University of Michigan-Flint, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, Lake Superior State University and Grand Valley State University. The grant was awarded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.