Food Access: Establish equitable distribution of food sources and food markets to provide all Minneapolis residents with reliable access to healthy, affordable, safe and culturally appropriate food.
Healthy food access is a complex issue and is difficult to measure precisely. However, racial, economic and geographic disparities resulting from structural inequities mean that some Minneapolis residents often have a harder time accessing affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food than others. Low household incomes, unreliable access to a vehicle, and lengthy distances from grocery stores are some of the major reasons Minneapolis residents may have difficulty getting healthy food when they want or need it.
There are two main components to healthy food access: proximity to stores that sell healthy food and income sufficient for food purchase. In 2015, Minneapolis had 11 census tracts that were considered healthy food access priority areas. Residents in these areas are low-income and live more than a mile from a full-service grocery store. A much greater number of census tracts have no full-service grocery store within a half-mile. Many of these food access priority areas are also areas of concentrated poverty where over half the residents are people of color. An area is considered an area of concentrated poverty if 40 percent or more of its residents make 185 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2016, 185 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four was a household income of $44,955, or an equivalent hourly wage of approximately $21.61. This same threshold is used to determine free and reduced-price meals at Minneapolis Public Schools. In 2016, more than 60 percent of the students in the Minneapolis Public Schools received free or reduced-price lunch.
Residents living at 185 percent of the federal poverty level are more likely to experience food insecurity, which is associated with obesity and inadequate nutrition. Lowering barriers to healthy food access can therefore reduce the risk and cost of obesity and diet-related diseases.
The City will seek to accomplish the following action steps to establish equitable distribution of food sources and food markets to provide all Minneapolis residents with reliable access to healthy, affordable, safe and culturally appropriate food.
- Assess and review the spatial distribution of healthy food sources and markets that serve Minneapolis communities and identify gaps.
- Expand areas where grocery stores are allowed, especially where there are gaps.
- Take proactive steps to attract new grocery stores to locations in low-income communities, including providing financial and technical support for grocery store expansion, remodeling or equipment upgrades.
- Build constructive relationships with store owners to foster improvements in healthy food offerings, as well as to extend general assistance in business planning and technical support.
- Explore and implement regulatory changes to allow and promote more innovative practices such as mobile food markets and mobile food pantries or food shelves that can bring food closer to under-resourced customers.
- Require licensed grocery stores to stock nutritious foods.
- Explore regulations that discourage unhealthy food outlets.
- Support the location and growth of culturally diverse food markets throughout the city.