3 out of every 10 Minnesotans lack access to healthy food, study says


About 1.6 million Minnesotans – nearly 30 percent – lack access to healthy food because of how far they live from a grocery store that supplies fresh fruits and vegetables.

That's according to a report released Wednesday by Wilder Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

These residents usually live in rural areas, have low incomes, or are seniors or people of color.

Click here to read the full report.

Access in the Twin Cities

While the new Wilder report focuses on statewide numbers, food deserts are an issue in the Twin Cities as well.

According to survey results presented by the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition, 46 percent of those who live inside the Twin Cities metropolitan area say their food choices are somewhat influenced by the lack of stores selling healthy food nearby.

This map below shows in red which areas of the Twin Cities are in the greatest need of fresh food access:

Access in Greater Minnesota

Then there's Greater Minnesota, where the problem is more pronounced.

The Healthy Kids Coalition survey found 55 percent of respondents living outside the Twin Cities metro area reported that their food choices are influenced a lack of nearby healthy food options.

In February, the University of Minnesota released a study on rural grocery stores that reported 28 percent of people in rural areas must travel 30 or more miles to get to the nearest grocery store. The report also found that the majority of rural grocery owners intend to own their store for less than 10 years and do not have a plan to transition their business.

Competition with large chain grocery stores is their most significant challenge, said that U of M report. High profit costs and narrow profit margins were also cited as challenges.

Click here to look at the Star Tribune's interactive map of food deserts throughout Minnesota.

What's behind the food crisis?

Around the Great Recession from 2007-2012, nearly half of Minnesota counties lost at least one grocery store. The areas affected were primarily rural communities, according to the Wilder report.

But the crisis didn't stop there. 2014 was the year that Minnesota's grocery store landscape was turned upside down. Rural grocery stores struggled – many were on the verge of bankruptcy or had to close, especially in towns with 700 people or fewer.

The Wilder Research report listed food regulations, licensing requirements, low populations and limited infrastructure as barriers in the food dessert crisis, noting that policy changes could address some of these hurdles.

Next Up

penumbra theatre company

3 Minnesota nonprofits get slice of $2.7B donated by Mackenzie Scott

The philanthropist has given away around $8 billion to nonprofits over the past year.

Screen Shot 2021-06-17 at 1.02.33 PM

Flights to resume between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Iceland

Icelandair is bringing back its service, which was nixed following the onset of COVID-19.

Juneteenth minneapolis

Communities across MN hosting events to mark Juneteenth

Juneteenth celebrates the freeing of enslaved African Americans after the Civil War.

U.S. district court minnesota - federal court

Moorhead man charged after 6-year-old was killed with his gun

Because of a previous felony conviction, Phillip Jones Jr. was prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition.

Mike Zimmer

Coller: Mike Zimmer is Vikings minicamp's biggest winner

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

forest service trash

Forest Service finds 2.28 tons of trash on just a 3-mile stretch of road

The agency is reminding people to stop dumping their old stuff.

hail in Burnsville

'Very large hail and damaging winds' possible with severe storms Thursday

Severe weather is likely in parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.


1 in 10 Minn. households lacks access to healthy food

It may come as a surprise to some in agriculture-rich Minnesota, but the number of people who have a tough time affording adequate healthy food is stuck at an all-time high, MPR reports. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report says about one in 10 Minnesota households does not get enough food for a healthy lifestyle.