A food swamp is an area where there is an overabundance of unhealthy food choices, especially in comparison to healthy food outlets. The food swamp map includes gas stations, convenience stores, and fast food outlets. Fast foods and gas stations/convenience stores are especially concentrated along the borders of highways and major roads, which increases the accessibility of quick-stop services for long distance travelers. Although most census tracts have at least one unhealthy food source nearby, the low-income tracts often have higher concentrations of such establishments due to proximity to highways and main thoroughfares.
The only farms and certified growers included on this map are those located within Washoe County boundaries, again with a focus on the Reno-Sparks region. There are several farm locations in the valleys to the south and east of Washoe County, which this map does not depict.
Most farms denoted on the map do not sell directly to individuals; instead their products are available through the farmers’ markets or the Great Basin Community Food Co-op. The Great Basin Community Food Co-op is the only local food co-op in the area and EBT cards are accepted. Additionally there are community supported agriculture (CSA) farms in Northern Nevada and Northern California. CSAs provide boxes/baskets of seasonally available foods for a set price directly to the customer. Benefits of purchasing straight from the grower include reduced fuel consumption and emissions for transport of food, as well as increasing the profit directly to the farmer. In 2000, it was estimated only 20% of every dollar spent on food goes back to the farmer, with the other 80% spent on marketing, packaging, transporting, and labor.
In the context of building a healthier community where all persons have equal access to healthy food, this map illustrates a general concept of people who are a quarter- mile distance from a healthy food source (grocery stores).
Food assistance locations include food pantries, mobile food pantries, commodity supplemental food programs for seniors, and after-school or summer food programs for children. Most food assistance locations only provide food some days of the week or month and are typically only to those who are eligible. Food assistance locations are not considered to be a regular source of food for all populations. While originally conceived as “emergency” food assistance, use of food pantries and other such resources has now become a regular strategy for an alarming number of families and individuals. Most food assistance programs are housed within organizations already providing some type of service to the low-income population and are assumed to be accessible for those subgroups. Schools (25%), churches (21%), and parks (12.9%) constitute the majority of food assistance locations in the Reno-Sparks area.