On June 10th, 2015, we officially released the latest update to our Baltimore City food desert analysis, in the new report: Mapping Baltimore City’s Food Environment: 2015 Report. This report is the culmination of research, data collection and analysis conducted over the past three years, in partnership with the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative. The official map shows food deserts, as defined by our own methodology, along with supermarkets and alternative healthy food retail. The report discusses our methodology in detail, demographic and health implications, and the City’s plans to address the issue of unequal access to healthy food. Maps of each city council district, a new feature with this publication, show food desert areas and multiple aspects of the food environment in each district (see Council Maps below). The City is already putting their plan to address food deserts into action. For example, Baltimarket, the City’s healthy food web portal, has information about the Virtual Supermarket program and a Healthy Stores initiative. Our hope is the City officials can actively use this information to continually address inequities in the food retail environment.
The food desert data are available for viewing as a layer on the Maryland Food System Map and are available for download on our Glossary and Download Data page. You can find the news release and photos from the press conference on CLF’s News Room page.
Here are some demographics from the 2015 Food Environment Map:
- 1 in 4 Baltimore City residents live in areas defined as food deserts (approximately 155,311 people).
- Children are affected disproportionately, with 30% of all school age children in the City living in food deserts.
- African American’s have disproportionately low access to healthy food and are the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to live in a food desert neighborhood (approximately 34% of Baltimore’s African-American population).
- For other minorities, the percent of population in these areas range from 11% to 15%.
- Only 8% of Baltimore’s white population lives in a food desert.
Research on the food environment and defining food deserts are the result of a partnership between the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, which began in 2011 prior to the release of our first food desert map (in 2012, see below for more information). The goal of our partnership is to define food deserts in Baltimore and to more accurately characterize the overall food environment in the City. Please note: Due to changes in the methodology it is not advisable to compare the 2015 map to the 2012 map.
Additional maps using the 2015 food desert data will be made, such as the relationship between food deserts and race, and posted here shortly.
Previous Food Desert and Food Environment Research
In 2009, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) developed its first food desert map for Baltimore City based on household income and access to supermarkets. In 2012, the Center partnered with Baltimore City’s Office of Sustainability, as part of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, to create a more robust food desert definition and update the map. That new food desert definition created a new standard for defining food deserts in Baltimore, using factors that capture the unique food environment in our city more accurately. The 2015 update further builds on this initial research, and now sets the standard as we continue this research. Please note: Due to changes in the methodology it is not advisable to compare the 2015 map to the 2012 map.
We have posted our 2012 data here for reference, and will work to recreate some of the additional maps using the food desert layer with the new 2015 analysis.
- 2012 Food Environment Map
- 2012 Food Environment Map Methodology Brief
- Farms, Food Deserts, and Race in Baltimore, Maryland (2012)
- Baltimore City Food Swamps 2012