Although there's no definitive definition of a food desert, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) offers the following:
“An area where the distance to a supermarket is more than one quarter of a mile; the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; over 40 percent of households have no vehicle available; and the average Healthy Food Availability Index score for supermarkets, convenience, and corner stores is low.”
The red areas represent "food deserts" in the University of Maryland (UM) community, which are block groups that are more than one-fourth of a mile from a major supermarket. In a food desert, 40 percent or more of the population's household income is below $25,000.
The map also marks the locations of available food sources:
- Supermarkets: large chain stories with five registers or more, offering fresh as well as processed foods
- Small groceries and corner stores: independently owned stores, usually a corner single housing unit that carries mostly processed foods
- "Behind glass" stores: corner stores with plexiglass between customers and cashier and products
- Convenience stores: chain stores that offer individually packaged processed foods, sometimes fresh foods, and prepared foods
- Food bank drop sites and WIC vendor locations
In this map, the purple denotes the more than 40 percent of the UM community earning $37,000 or less a year. It also notes the availability of food, showing nearby local markets including covered or indoor markets and Baltimore City farmers markets (i.e. the University Farmers Market).
The orange sections below highlight the more than 40 percent of the UM community earning $25,000 or less a year with limited access to food stores and farmers markets.