FOOD SECURITY IN SPRINGFIELD, MO

In 2015, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department released a report on Physical Access as a Factor in Food Security. The report highlighted census tracts which have limited physical access to supermarkets.   

The report indicated that Springfield had five census tracts classified as low-income with low access to food stores: 3, 5.02, 6, 11 and 18. 


Community efforts to reduce barriers to physical access to food were recommended in the census tracts highlighted in the report. 

This report provides an update on food security in Springfield by looking at the access residents of low-income areas have to supermarkets and "Safety Net Food Providers."


Progress at the Supermarket Level

Since the release of the 2015 report, there have been successes and setbacks. A new supermarket opened on Grand Avenue and another on Commercial reopened as a supermarket at Grand and Kansas closed. Two new grocery store chains moved to Springfield, both in areas with already high access.

Since the 2105 report, census tract 17 remains the only low-income census tract without optimal access to a supermarket.

The Impact of Safety Net Food Providers

Safety net food providers provide additional food access opportunities at no charge to low-income residents. 

Examples include:

Meals To Go

Feeding Sites

Ideally, all low-income families who do not live within .5 miles of a supermarket would have access to a safety-net food provider. However, there are several large swaths of the city that remain without optimal access. Specifically, low-income families in Parkwood and Sherwood neighborhoods are highly food insecure.

The orange areas on this map indicate residential-zoned areas. Those areas not covered in blue do not have access to food services within .5 miles.

Limitations of Food Safety Net Providers

Safety net providers may not provide consistent or constant availability of food.

The areas of yellow represent community-based providers which serve all families. The areas of dark gray indicate low-income neighborhoods where families without children are highly food-insecure. Families without children in Sherwood, Mark Twain, Fassnight, Parkwood, Cooper park and an unidentified area north of Interstate 44 are particularly vulnerable.



Many safety net options are only available to children and/or their families in the Springfield Public School district, leaving families without children without optimal access.

The orange areas on this map indicate residential-zoned areas. Those areas not covered in blue represent residential areas in which families without children do not have access to food services within .5 miles.

Feeding Sites

Feeding sites are locations where families can get a full meal on-site, such as the Northwest Project’s weekly community dinners. The community could benefit from more frequent meals and greater dispersal throughout the community, particularly community-based options which are available to all families.

School-based and community-based feeding sites; some serve only children and/or their families.

Community-based feeding sites

Food Pantries

Many Springfield schools offer food pantries that are available to families with children. Ozarks Food Harvest is the food bank benefiting area food pantries. The community could benefit from the presence of more community-based food pantries dispersed throughout vulnerable areas.

School-based and community-based food pantries; some serve only children and/or their families

Community-based food pantries

Meals to Go

Meals to go consist mostly of Backpack Programs, Grab ‘N Go Snacks and Supersnacks available only to Springfield Public School students. There are only seven (7) community-based options. Of those, two are only available to seniors. The community could benefit from more services which offer meals to go.

School-based and community-based meals to go; most are school-based and serve only children and/or their families

Community-based meals to go (two are only available to seniors)

Community Gardens

Springfield Community Gardens are available seasonally to all members of the community. The community could benefit from greater dispersal of community gardens throughout vulnerable areas.

Recommendations

Based on this report, additional community efforts to improve food access are recommended, including the following:

Food security may be a consideration during the future development of supermarkets.

Community efforts could focus on expanding the availability and accessibility of food provided by safety net providers     to those areas identified as being highly insecure.

Community efforts could focus on better connecting low-income families with current safety net food providers.

Food Collaborative members should consider developing an implementation plan to improve food access