Access to Healthy Food
The percentage of residents who live in census tracts in the City of St. Louis with low access to healthy food
Black residents are nearly twice as likely as white residents to live in census tracts with low access to healthy food.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Access to Healthy Food, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white residents have equal access to healthy food. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Access to Healthy Food measures the percentage of residents who live in census tracts in the City of St. Louis with low access to healthy food. Low access is defined as being far from a supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store. A census tract is considered to have low access if a significant number (at least 500 people) or share (at least 33 percent) of the population in the tract are more than one mile from a supermarket in urban areas. In 2015, 12 of 107 census tracts in St. Louis City were considered low-access census tracts. There were 28,491 residents living in low-access census tracts, which represents 9% of the city’s population.
Access to Healthy Food Analysis
Residents who live in census tracts with low access to healthy foods in St. Louis City.
|All||Black||White||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Population of census tracts with low access to healthy foods||28,491||17,950||8,547||-||-|
|Percent of population with low access to healthy food||9.0%||11.9%||6.3%||1.879 to 1||45|
Data Source: USDA, Food Access Research Atlas, 2015. American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 2012-2016.
What does this analysis mean?
Black residents are nearly twice as likely as white residents to live in census tracts with low access to healthy food. In 2016, 12% of black residents had poor access to healthy food, compared to 6% of white residents. If access were equitable, there would be 8,440 fewer black residents with low access to healthy food.
Data Note: There are multiple ways to calculate this metric. The Missouri Coalition of Environment uses low-income, low access at the ½ mile threshold (LILA). If access is defined as ½ mile, then 80% of city residents live in low-access census tracts, for both black and white residents. Our metric does not use individual-level resources that may affect accessibility, such as family income or vehicle availability.
Why does Access to Healthy Food matter?
Limited access to sources of healthy and affordable food makes it harder for some Americans to eat a healthy diet. Residents who do not have a healthy diet are more likely to struggle with food-related health issues, including obesity. The Ferguson Commission is particularly concerned with hunger among children: “Insufficient nutritional intake in a child’s first two years of life can lead to increased susceptibility to short-term and long-term illness, as well as slowed mental development and physical growth.”
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
The Ferguson Commission calls to action related to access to healthy food include:
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there a racial disparity in Access to Healthy Food?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Access to Healthy Food?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Access to Healthy Food?
How can I learn more about this issue?
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has produced an Interactive Local Foodshed Map in addition to the "2014 St. Louis Food Study." Following the publication of the study, they formed the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, which in partnership with East-West Gateway has set a goal of reducing by half the number of census tracts where 70% of residents are considered low income and low food access by 2027.