Across the country, 17.3 million rural U.S. residents lack equitable access to supermarkets. Reinvestment Fund’s new Rural Food Access Investment Area (RFAIA) analysis, uses 2012-2106 Census data to determine 11.3 million underserved rural residents live in areas that could support new or expanded food retail options. Despite the need for improved access to fresh and healthy foods in rural areas, many analyses of food access—and many investments to improve food access—have focused on urban areas.
The RFAIA analysis identified 1,472 Investment Areas containing 11.3 million rural U.S. residents living in households underserved by supermarkets and that likely have market support for investments in new and existing place-based food retail. That is, they live in what we term: Investment Areas. This report: 1) explains the methodology behind the analysis so users of its results can understand how they were generated, what the results mean, and the limitations; 2) summarizes the findings of the RFAIA for the nation and for each of the nine U.S. Census Bureau divisions; and 3) offers guidance for practitioners and advocates to use the results of the analysis to guide investment to rural areas.
Using the RFAIA and other tools, Reinvestment Fund and its partners will continue to work to improve the state of food access in rural communities across the country. The full results, including the location and other information about individual Investment Areas, are available to the public at no cost on PolicyMap, www.PolicyMap.com.