The objectives of the Food Desert Locator are:
to present a spatial overview of where food-desert census tracts are located;
to provide selected population characteristics of food-desert census tracts; and
to offer data on food-desert census tracts that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
How is a food desert defined?
The HFFI working group defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store:
To qualify as a “low-income community,” a census tract must have either: 1) a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, OR 2) a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area's median family income;
To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).
What can users do with the Locator?
Create maps showing food-desert census tracts;
View statistics on selected population characteristics in food-desert census tracts; and
Download census-tract level data from food-desert tracts.
How is the Food Desert Locator related to the Food Environment Atlas?
The Food Desert Locator maps and provides selected population characteristics of census tracts that are food deserts—low-income neighborhoods without easy access to a supermarket or large grocery store. These characteristics are provided only for census tracts that meet the definition of a food desert.
The Food Environment Atlas provides a wider set of statistics on food choices, health and well-being, and community characteristics for all communities in the U.S. While the Food Desert Locator provides information at the census tract level, the smallest geographic level of data in the Food Environment Atlas is the county. The Food Environment Atlas also has an Advanced Query tool that allows users to identify and map counties sharing the same degree of multiple indicators.