Food deserts plague the High Plains

Jun 13, 2014

Food deserts abound on the High Plains
Food deserts abound on the High Plains
Credit msucommunitydevelopment.org

Across the High Plains, areas are colored with food deserts.  In a place that’s been dealing with drought for four years, the added designation of being a food desert feels more literal.  A food desert is an area designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a non-metropolitan, low-income area where at least 500 people or 33 percent of the population lives more than ten miles from a supermarket or large grocery store.

The Economist recently told the story of a resident of Felt, a small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  Felt is in the midst of a food desert.  There isn’t a grocery store in the community of about 300 people.  The nearest stores with fresh and healthy food are 20 miles to the northeast in Boise City or 24 miles southwest to Clayton, New Mexico. 

Gayla Hartley’s story of living in the Oklahoma food desert is available from The Economist.

Akron, Colorado doesn’t have a grocery store.  In a community surrounded by wheat fields, there’s no place to buy flour.  You won’t find fresh meat, produce, or formula.  On Easter, there wasn’t an egg to be found at Bella’s, the local grocery store reported 7News

The community says one reason they are so frustrated is unlike dying rural communities, Akron is the county seat, has a new school, and a steady population if 1,800 that could support a grocery store. 

Bella’s Market was sold a few years ago.  The new owner declared bankruptcy in 2012, and has been in legal battles with the former owner since that time.