February 3, 2021 - Podcast

Episode 86—Food deserts, and emotional intelligence

Access to fresh food is something we often take for granted. But a new study from SAVI at IUPUI’s Polis Center shows more than a quarter of Black Hoosiers live in food deserts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these are considered to be low-income areas where at least a third of residents live more than a mile from a supermarket — or 10 miles in rural communities. Researchers at IUPUI studied areas in Gary, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as parts of Posey, Greene and Crawford Counties in the south to find out, if a person were to move to the area, what the chances are that they would be living far from a grocery store. They found that residents of Indiana’s urban areas are more likely to live in a food desert, and more than 16% of city dwellers can’t reach a supermarket easily. GIS and Data Analyst Unai Miguel Andres says for those already on a tight budget, this means in order to access food, they have to spend money to either ride a bus or purchase gas for a car, if they have one. That is money that could be going toward food. In Indianapolis, more than 200,000 people live in food deserts and more than 10,000 households without a car are in a transit food desert, with no grocery store easily accessible by bus. Experts say a lack of access to healthy food can have wide-ranging health impacts, including obesity and diabetes. Being able to go to the grocery store only every other week due to distance forces people to buy things that do not perish, which means less fruits and vegetables and other fresh foods, Miguel Andres says. To address this issue, some Indiana legislators are working to reintroduce legislation that would help shrink food deserts. Until then, innovations forced by the pandemic’s quarantine requirements are providing some relief, allowing more than half a million Hoosiers who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to use their Hoosier Works EBT cards to purchase groceries online for pickup or delivery at Amazon, Aldi and Walmart.

In other news, running a successful business has its challenges, but the COVID-19 pandemic has required many owners to pivot and look for new ways to operate profitably while keeping employees and consumers safe. Research from the IU Kelley School of Business found that emotional intelligence – the ability to understand, use and manage emotions – may be more vital to a business’ survival than previously thought. According to the study, entrepreneurs benefit much more from emotional competencies than other competencies — such as IQ — possibly due to high uncertainty and ambiguity that comes with the world of entrepreneurship, which is even more applicable in a crisis. According to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about a fifth of all new businesses fail within their first two years and nearly half are shuttered within five years. More than a million U.S. companies with employees were shuttered in 2020, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of bankruptcies in 2020 and those expected this year likely will approach levels last seen during the worst quarter of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Professors Regan Stevenson and Ernest O’Boyle say the extreme nature of the pandemic has made one’s ability to manage emotions and social connections critically more important, especially so during these times of major disruption and crisis. According to the study, those with a higher emotional intelligence are better able to be self-motivated and have higher social skills – even under more normal circumstances. While IQ is unquestionably the better predictor of job performance and career success across all jobs and careers, within the domain of entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence was the stronger predictor of success, says Professor Regan Stevenson. In fact, those with high emotional intelligence tended to be more successful as business leaders and enjoy success more than in more typical jobs and careers.