Grocery store closures could create gaps in food availability

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Feeding South Dakota, the Food Security Oversight Committee and Rapid City Collective Impact have been collecting baseline data on retail and charitable food access and requirements within the Rapid City area.

Rapid City is home to 13 grocery stores, which includes grocery sections in retail supercenters such as Walmart, Sam’s Club and Target. Rapid City has a population of 74,048, according to the most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. Per that information, there are currently 5,700 people per grocery store in Rapid City. In October, when the number of grocery stores is set to shrink to 10, the ratio will increase to 7,400 people per grocery store. Though that estimate is still below the national average of 8,800 residents per supermarket - according to 2016 data from the Food Market Institute and the U.S. Census Bureau - it is likely that many Rapid City stores serve patrons from outside of city limits. Comprised of Pennington, Custer and Meade counties, the Rapid City metro area had a population of 145,641 in 2016, translating to a ratio of nearly 14,600 per grocery store in October.

The Rapid City Food Security Oversight Committee has elected to share mapping work with the community, identifying critical gaps in food availability and access. With the recent announcement of impending closures of two Family Thrift locations and Prairie Market, Food Security Manager for Feeding South Dakota, Mary Corbine, explained that conflicts may arise.

“Problems that could arise - is people already struggle with transportation,” Corbine said. “This could just extend that as more of a concern, that it's further now for people who already might not have transportation to have to have to get groceries and that can be quite a challenge.”

Over the few past months, Corbine has been collecting and validating data that is being used to map a variety of food security issues including housing, incomes, eligibility, transportation and charity food access points.

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