SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Cars are almost essential to have for when we go buy groceries. But not everyone has a vehicle, so they either walk or sometimes even go hungry.
That’s the sad reality a lot of families in Sioux Falls are facing. A new study released today points that out and shows there are big gaps in the city where people don’t have access to healthy food choices.
Not everyone can drive to a grocery store.
Michelle Erpenbach of Sioux Falls Thrive heard that recently from one mother.
“Talking about walking more than a half mile to a grocery store, because she doesn’t have a vehicle she’s got two or three little kids and they are all carrying at least one bag of groceries to get home and now that store is gone,” Erpenbach said.
Sioux Falls Thrive paid for a study to be done on food deserts in the city; where there are no grocery stores or supermarkets.
“So these are the food desert areas,” Suzanne Smith of Augustana Research Institute said.
Suzanne Smith of Augustana Research Institute spearheaded the study.
She says they found that 17% of children in Sioux Falls are food insecure. That’s nearly a four-point increase from a similar study in 2018.
“A lot of things have changed since 2018, grocery stores have closed, we’ve had neighborhoods change, we have people turnover living in those neighborhoods, so we remapped where those food deserts are it’s very clear, especially after the closing of the Hy-Vee that the northwest part of the city is a pretty low access area,” Smith said.
Look at this map.
The green areas indicate where you’ll find grocery stores within a mile radius.
These other areas are considered food deserts.
They also surveyed more than 150 stores and compared prices.
“What we found is there’s not a lot of variation in prices between the southeast side of Sioux Falls where you have plenty of supermarkets and the northwest side where you don’t, but there’s a big difference in food availability,” Smith said.
Erpenbach says Sioux Falls Thrive will use the study moving forward to find solutions to get families access to food.
“Figure out a different way to do grocery stores; maybe grocery stores need to be on wheels, maybe grocery stores need to pop up, you know sometimes there’s a pop up store at the Multi-Cultural Center in downtown, maybe replicate that model in other ways,” Erpenbach said. “But we have to think as a community what it’s like to have to walk long distances just to get the basic necessities and that’s what this report is about, we all have to see this picture.”
In total, an estimated 24,603 people in Sioux Falls live in a food desert.
To take a closer look at the study, click here.