SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The USDA describes a food desert as an area “where people have limited access to a variety of healthy and affordable food.”
Would the planned Jan. 1 closure of a Hy-Vee at 2700 W. 10th St in Sioux Falls create a food desert in the area?
First, take a look at some of the characteristics that the USDA says in a 2012 report that make up a food desert. Those factors include income, vehicle availability and access to public transportation.
The 2012 USDA report also says that food deserts often have a lower income than other areas of an urban or rural area, and at least 500 or 33% of the population in an urban area must live more than one mile from the nearest grocery store.
But from the 2012 USDA report to a 2017 USDA report, some shifts in food deserts were identified.
The number of supermarkets increased in that time which meant distance may not have as much of an influence on accessing healthy food. This suggests “that income and resource constraints may be greater barriers to accessing healthy food retailers than proximity,” according to a 2017 USDA report.
In terms of poverty and racial factors, a 2013 John Hopkins study indicated that “Neighborhoods with greater poverty and large minority populations have less access to supermarkets.”
How does the supermarket closure fit a food desert?
The closest Hy-Vee nearest to the company’s supermarket at 2700 W. 10th St. is about 1.92 miles away at 1900 S. Marion Road.
Sunshine Foods, at 530 S 2nd Ave, is also more than a mile away from housing near 2700 W. 10th St.
For those who live along Kiwanis north of the Hy-Vee at West 10th, the distance would be greater than the one mile used to help identify a food desert.
Sioux Falls Thrive has identified the Hayward Area, west of the Hy-Vee, as a food desert.
“The Hayward area, bordered on the south by Skunk Creek and the north by Madison Street and between I-29 and Ellis Road, but especially the area north of 12th Street. Though this area has small grocery stores and relatively high rates of vehicle ownership compared to other food desert areas, it also has very limited access to supermarkets or charitable food assets,” said Thrive’s December 2018 report “Food Security & Food Systems in Sioux Falls, SD” completed by Augustana University.
The loss of a supermarket to the east would compound that Thrive-identified food desert.
Access to public transportation and vehicles are also factors in identifying food deserts.
The 2018 Thrive report said an estimated 2,109 Sioux Falls households in food deserts have no vehicle, and of those, an estimated 1,480 live more than ½ mile from a supermarket.
Thrive identified five areas of low-vehicle food deserts.
Those areas are the downtown area and the area north of downtown between 6th Street and Russell Street
stretching from Western Avenue to I-229. The others are outlying tracts that include the area around 6th Street and Sycamore Avenue and the area around 49th Street and Louise Avenue. These areas do not specifically match areas near the West 10th Street supermarket.
How does the supermarket neighborhood fit with food desert factors such as low-income and race?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10.4% of the city’s 2019 population was at the poverty level.
The city’s Black, non-Hispanic and Native American, non-Hispanic residents have historically and consistently resided in the central and east central part of Sioux Falls, according to the city’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice of April 24, 2020.
The analysis showed that the areas with low ownership rates and high rental rates are some of the same areas with clusters of non-white populations.
Although there are clusters of non-whites, non-homeowners in parts of the city, the 2020 analysis said none of these areas qualify as a racially concentrated area of poverty or ethnically concentrated area of poverty (R/ECAP). R/ECAPs are areas with a poverty rate of 40%.
Still, the city has areas where poverty is high. Minority residents are also more likely to live in high poverty areas, according to the analysis.
Some of the higher poverty areas are not far from the West 10th Street supermarket.