Population with Low Food Access

This indicator reports the percentage of the population living in census tracts designated as food deserts. A food desert is defined as a low-income census tract (where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. This indicator is relevant because it highlights populations and geographies facing food insecurity.
Report Area Total Population Population with Low Food Access Percent Population with Low Food Access
Franklin County, PA 149,618 34,397 22.99%
Pennsylvania 12,702,379 2,682,905 21.12%
United States 308,745,538 69,266,771 22.43%
Note: This indicator is compared with the state average. Green - Better than state average, Red - Worse than state average.
Data Source: US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, USDA - Food Access Research Atlas. 2015. Source geography: Tract
Website Updated December 11 2017 Site Reviewed January 05 2018

Population with Low Food Access

Data Background

The Food Access Research Atlas (FARA) presents a spatial overview of food access indicators for populations using different measures of supermarket accessibility. The FARA is a compliment to the USDA's Food Environment Atlas, which houses county-level food related data. The FARA provides census-tract level detail of the food access measures, including food desert census tracts. Estimates in the Food Access Research Atlas draw from various sources, including the 2015 STARS list of supermarkets, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Retailer Directory, the 2010 Decennial Census, and the 2010-14 American Community Survey.

For more information about this source, including the methodology and data definitions please visit the Food Access Research Atlas web page.


Census tract-level data was acquired from the USDA Food Access Research Atlas (FARA) and aggregated to generate county and state-level estimates.

The FARA hosts data derived through the analysis of multiple sources. First, a directory of supermarkets and large grocery stores within the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, was derived from merging the 2015 STARS directory of stores authorized to accept SNAP benefits and the 2015 Trade Dimensions TDLinx directory of stores. Stores met the definition of a supermarket or large grocery store if they reported at least $2 million in annual sales and contained all the major food departments found in a traditional supermarket, including fresh meat and poultry, dairy, dry and packaged foods, and frozen foods. The combined list of supermarkets and large grocery stores was converted into a GIS-usable format by geocoding the street address into store-point locations. Population data are reported at the block level from the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, while data on income are drawn at the block group-level from the 2010-14 American Community Survey. Distance to nearest supermarket was determined for population blocks. Blocks were determined to be "low-access" based on the distance of the block centroid to the nearest grocery store. For blocks within urban census tracts, the low-access cut off was 1 mile; for blocks within rural census tracts, the cut off was 10 miles. Rural or urban status is designated by the Census Bureau’s Urban Area definition. Low-income is defined as annual family income of less than or equal to 200 percent of the Federal poverty threshold given family size.

For more information, please refer to the Food Access Research Atlas Documentation.


Race and Ethnicity
Statistics by race and ethnicity are not provided for this indicator from the data source. Detailed race/ethnicity data may be available at a broader geographic level, or from a local source.

Courtesy: Community Commons, <www.communitycommons.org>, December 2017