Identifying Food Deserts in Rural North Dakota: A GIS-Based Analysis of Food Accessibility

Authors: Phoebe Eichhorst*, University of North Dakota, Dr. Enru Wang, University of North Dakota, Zachary Seeger, University of North Dakota
Topics: food systems, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: food desert, rural food access, GIS, North Dakota, food security, public health, policy, service area
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Lack of food, and especially food access, is detrimental to the health and well-being of all populations regardless of socio-economic status. In the United States, food insecurity affects one in eight households. Rural area food desert identification has been overlooked since recent food security research has focused on urban areas. Rural communities face different kinds of food access challenges compared to those that live in urban areas such as driving long distances. Our research goal was to visualize, analyze, and investigate areas in the predominantly rural state of North Dakota with low food accessibility. Using GIS, we analyzed rural food deserts in North Dakota. The first step was to calculate accessibility to food stores using a service area network analysis that incorporated road network and residential unit datasets. The second step analyzed the spatial patterns and delineated areas with least accessibility as rural food deserts. Additional research avenues would be to investigate how a lack of food access could impact a population’s health, development, and behavior.

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