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For most U.S. counties, a small proportion of children face low food access

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ready access to healthy, affordable foods can help parents and children make better food choices and can play a role in children’s nutrition and health. One commonly used measure of access to nutritious, affordable foods (food access) is distance to the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store. In ERS’s online mapping tool—the Food Environment Atlas—low food access is defined as living more than 1 mile from one of these types of food retailers. In 89 percent of U.S. counties, 10 percent or less of children (birth to age 17) had low food access in 2010. While using 1 mile to delineate low access provides a uniform national measure, it also may overestimate access problems in rural areas, where people are more likely to have access to vehicles, making traveling farther to supermarkets easier. This map and others showing measures of food access can be found in ERS's Food Environment Atlas.

The percentage of households without a vehicle and far from a supermarket decreased from 2006 to 2010

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Access to nutritious, affordable food is often measured by the distance a household must travel to the nearest supermarket. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of individuals living more than one mile from a supermarket increased, but more individuals had access to vehicles in 2010 to travel to and from stores. In 2006, 10.3 percent of all U.S. households had no access to a vehicle, dropping to 8.8 percent by 2010. The percentage of households both without a vehicle and farther than a mile from a supermarket also dropped from 2.3 percent in 2006 to 1.8 percent in 2010. A greater share of households in low-income areas does not have vehicles. However, because low-income areas tend to be more densely populated, households in these areas often live closer to supermarkets than in higher-income areas. The statistics for this chart can be found in the ERS report, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data, ERR-143, November 2012.

Access to healthful, affordable food limited in some U.S. tribal areas

Friday, January 4, 2013

Efforts to encourage Americans to eat more nutritious foods presume that a wide variety of these foods are accessible to all. But some Americans, including those living in tribal areas, may lack access to stores that carry both healthful and affordable foods. More than 1.3 million people reside in federally-designated tribal areas in the United States, and 71.5 percent of them live in rural areas. In 2010, 14 percent of people living in rural tribal areas lived more than 20 miles from a supermarket, and another 18.2 percent lived between 10 and 20 miles from the nearest supermarket. A greater share of the rural tribal area population lived farther than 20 miles from the nearest supermarket than the share of the total U.S. rural population (0.8 percent). The statistics for this chart can be found in the ERS report, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data, ERR-143, November 2012.

Where are food deserts in the U.S.?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Food Desert Locator provides a spatial overview of low-income neighborhoods with high concentrations of people who are far from a supermarket or large grocery store. This mapping tool will allow users to map food deserts-areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods-and view census tract-level statistics on population groups with low access to healthy and affordable food. An estimated total of 13.5 million people in these identified census tracts have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store-that is, they live more than 1 or 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store. Of these 13.5 million people, 82.1 percent are in urban areas. This map is from the Food Desert Locator, released May 2, 2011.

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