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Tracking Food Deserts: Where Do You Live?

Food deserts are areas where 20% of the population lives in poverty and 33% have difficulty accessing a grocery store.

Food Deserts

Photo: Courtesy of USDA

This map shows the food deserts (marked in red) in the United States.

Deserts In The U.S.

Based on information collected from the census, the USDA has made an interactive online map to visualize food deserts.

A food desert is a rural or urban area where at least 20 percent of the residents live in poverty and 33 percent of the people live without a supermarket or large grocery store nearby. Most must rely on corner stores that don’t always carry nutritious food or they must travel by car to shop. According to this map, about 13.5 million people have “low access” to stores that sell healthy food.

The USDA says that this map will help officials pinpoint areas that have low access to healthy food in their efforts to “expand the availability of nutritious food.”

This interactive map was made available to the public thanks to initiatives of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, which advocates to make healthy food accessible for everyone.

Where You Live, Where You Shop

The map shows that the number of food deserts increase in the west and southwest part of the country. New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah have some of the largest food deserts, while other states like Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and Minnesota have high concentrations of food deserts.

Generally, the Midwest has the least amount of food deserts, and Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island stand out for providing the most easily accessible grocery stores to their residents.

According to the data, 10 percent of the country’s census tracts, which house 13.5 million people, qualified as food deserts. 82 percent of these people live in urban areas.

  • Food Deserts

    Image 1 of 4

    This map shows the food deserts (marked in red) in the United States.

  • Food Deserts Arizona

    Image 2 of 4

    Photo: USDA

    In some states, like Arizona and New Mexico, many people have difficulty finding healthy food and grocery stores.

  • Food Deserts

    Image 3 of 4

    Photo: USDA

    In other states, like Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most of the population has access to a grocery store.

  • Bloomington Food Desert

    Image 4 of 4

    Photo: USDA

    There are two food deserts in Monroe County, Indiana (Earth Eat's broadcasting home).

Read More:

  • USDA Introduces Online Tool for Locating ‘Food Deserts’ (USDA)
  • Food Desert Locator (USDA)
  • Map: Do You Live in a Food Desert? (GOOD)
Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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  • cindy brown

    This is very interesting. Not surprising that lots of poor folks don’t have access to a decent grocery store. I tried to use the interactive map to find out about the food desserts in the Atlanta area, but couldn’t get it to work on my browser.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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