The definition of a food desert is any area where a significant number of people reside more than a mile away from a grocery store in an urban community and in a rural community more than ten miles away from a grocery store. In some cases, it includes lower income areas where a majority of the population don’t have access to transportation and/or reside 20 miles from a grocery store. The USDA has created an interactive Food Access Research Atlas Map that highlights by color, which communities in America fall under these definitions. They have used a combination of census information along with supermarket and retail food statistics to create a map that offers a variety of detail choices for food access around the country. The interactive part, allows the user to create a more in-depth map of specific areas, based on the criteria available for the community.
The first thing that you notice when you look at this map, is the amount of color coded areas that display those people that reside more than ten miles from a supermarket. A majority of the large coded areas appear to be West of The Rocky Mountains, with the Midwest and East Coast offering a speckling of smaller communities that fall into this description. You have the ability to select specific layer indicators to show each specific level, based on the criteria you are seeking. The green display shows the original food desert guidelines, which are one to ten miles from food access. Gold is .5 to ten miles to food access. Red is one to twenty miles and yellow is lacking vehicle access to food.
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