Greater Waco Food Environment Study Report
A food desert is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Treasury and Department of Health and Human Services as a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store1. There are two criteria that must be met to qualify census tracts as food deserts:
1. The census tract has a poverty rate of ≥20% OR a median income ≤ 80% of the area median family income; AND
2. The census tract qualifies as “low-access” based on ≥500 persons and/or ≥33% of the census tract’s population live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.
Live Well Waco and its partners aim to increase healthy eating in McLennan County, TX by increasing access to affordable fruits and vegetables. This assessment provides Live Well Waco and its partners a sketch of what food is available in particular census tracts and zip codes which will help guide current healthy living initiatives, as well as those to be developed in the future. Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (WMCPHD) received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to perform this local assessment. The Texas Nutrition Environment Assessment in Stores (TxNEA-S) survey tool was used in convenience and grocery stores in 7 zip codes.
The survey findings are intended to be shared with community stakeholders and decision makers in hopes that environmental changes will take place. Live Well Waco will share these findings with local food environment and access experts for their use in identifying locations for greatest impact.