Food Desert Initiative

What is a Food Desert? 

A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, in contrast with an area with higher access to supermarkets or vegetable shops with fresh foods, which is called a food oasis. The designation considers the type and quality of food available to the population, in addition to the accessibility of the food through the size and proximity of the food stores.

In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in "food deserts", meaning that they live more than one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas.


Food deserts tend to be inhabited by low-income residents with reduced mobility; this makes them a less attractive market for large supermarket chains. Food deserts lack suppliers of fresh foods, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables. Instead, the available foods are often processed and high in sugar and fats, which are known contributors to the proliferation of obesity in the U.S.


Food Desert Initiative

Using recent, local data to improve on food access measures, we find that an estimated 200,000 Indianapolis residents have low food access and live in low income areas. The largest food deserts are located on the city’s near northwest and northeast areas, southwest and southeast areas, and the Far East side.


The RIN Project is currently delivering  hundreds of boxes of food to families across the city of Indianapolis every Thursday evening. The RIN Project Food Desert Initiative is focused on specifically delivering food boxes to families because most families who need boxes delivered do not have adequate transportation to get to a grocery store. The RIN Project will plant food pantry's in the hardest hit communities such as Riverside, Crown Hill, Martindale-Brightwood, Forest Manor & Arlington Woods. The RIN Pantry is expected to launch Fall of 2021 and will be stationed in all 5 communities by spring of 2022 . 


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