Food Deserts & Farmers Markets

One rather new term that is being used when discussing food security is “food desert.” A food desert is a low-income area where there is little access to a grocery store or supermarket.

To qualify as a food desert, both of these conditions must be met:

  • 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 census tract’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).

Here in Wichita, we have several “food deserts,” most notably along the southern edge of the city and also in the northeast part of the city. To view a map (with details) of the food deserts in the U.S., you can visit this page: Food Desert Locator

On a related note, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is available again. Here’s a link to the information from Wichita on the Cheap. (You can also find the info on the Sedgwick County Website, but the link won’t take you directly to the info.)

Residents of Sedgwick County who are 60 years or older and make less than $20,147 per year (before taxes) will soon be able to receive $30 in cash benefits at local participating farmers’ markets this year. The coupons will be available for use between May 2nd and October 15th.

To sign up, you can contact the Sedgwick County Department on Aging or your local Senior Center.

If you are a farmer/vendor that would like to be able to accept the coupons, you need to be signed up at the state level. You can give me a call at 660-0142 for information on what you need to do or visit the State Dept. of Health website.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on May 2, 2011, in Around the Garden and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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