Maps of the modified Retail Food Environment Index are now posted on the CDC-DNPAO webpage. These maps can help identify census tracts within states or communities that either lack access to healthy food retailers or contain very high densities of fast food restaurants and convenience stores relative to the number of healthy food retailers. States and communities can also use data from the mRFEI Data Table to create their own maps using GIS software or link the mRFEI data to other census-tract level data.
The USDA now has an online tool for locating food deserts. This internet-based mapping tool pinpoints the location of food deserts around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. The online Food Desert Locator, developed by the USDA Economic Research Service, is a tool that can be used help expand the availability of nutritious foods in low-income communities that lack ready access to healthy food. Expanding the availability of nutritious food is part of First Lady Michele Obama's Let's Move! initiative to address the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The Food Desert Locator comes on the heels of an earlier Web mapping tool documenting indicators of food access, which was also developed by ERS: the recently updated Food Environment Atlas. That product, unveiled by the First Lady at the launch of her Let's Move! initiative last year, presents a broad set of statistics on food choices, health and wellbeing, and community characteristics. The Atlas presents data at the county level, while the new Food Desert Locator data are at the census tract level, covering smaller subdivisions whose general population characteristics are often relatively homogeneous.
You can access the Food Desert Locator at www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert. The site includes an online media kit with downloadable images and logos.
CDC - DNPAO released the fact sheet Healthier Food Retail: Beginning the Assessment Process in Your State or Community. This document provides an overview of steps state and local public health practitioners can take to assess their retail food environment. States and communities can use this tool to better understand their current food retail landscape and differences in accessibility to healthier foods. This fact sheet includes the following topics:
· Public and commercial data sources on food retail
· Considerations when using food retail data sets
· Geographic information system mapping
· Working with partners
· Assessments of in-store availability, cost, and quality
· State and community examples
Food Access Maps provide consumers, policymakers and healthy food advocates visual and often interactive information on where large and small markets sell healthy foods and what areas are food deserts. These resources, generally web-based, can map community and school gardens, food co-ops and farmers' markets as well as supermarkets, health food stores, corner markets and WIC sites.
Your Food Environment Atlas is a web-based mapping tool developed by USDA's Economic Research Service that allows users to compare U.S. counties' “food environment” – the set of factors that help determine and reflect a community’s access to affordable, healthy food. With the Atlas, users can visualize and geographically compare a wide range of demographic, health, and food-access characteristics, mostly at the county level. The updated Atlas includes 40 indicators for which updated data are available and adds a number of new indicators, including four new food access indicators and 34 new indicators measuring the change over time. With 168 indicators, the revised Atlas sheds even more light than the original edition on food environments across the United States and provides an even broader overview of a community’s ability to access healthy foods and its success in doing so. You can access the new Atlas here.
The Network for a Healthy California created a GIS Map Viewer, an interactive, internet-based Geographic Information System (GIS) that allows users to view and query mapped nutrition data. The application contains a rich set of nutrition and other health related data, including:
- Nutrition and school health programs
- WIC grocery stores and other local nutrition resources
- Demographics (race and spoken language) of general and at-risk populations
- Various California Department of Public Health regions
- Political (senate and assembly) districts.
The Minnesota Environmental Health Division worked with a light rail project in Saint Paul to identify food access points along the line. The Division developed food access maps.
Missouri's Nutrition Services Section created searchable maps to locate summer feeding sites, local WIC offices and grocery stores that accept WIC checks.
Alaska created an interactive map of farms participating in the state's Community Supported Agriculture program.