Yesterday’s post on the federal government’s new program to eradicate “food deserts” provided an obvious example in which the database yields nonsensical results. A large US Army installation, one with its own grocery store, no unemployment, and essentially no poverty, nevertheless appeared to meet all of the government’s (arbitrary) criteria for inclusion.
A closer look shows that there is yet another reason why this particular “food desert” is a mirage. Soldiers who live within this census tract actually do live within one mile of a second, large grocery store–albeit one that is in an adjacent census tract.
The same Food Locator map is reproduced below, this time with two additions. First, a circle with radius of 1 mile has been centered on the most distant housing unit within the census tract. Second, a large grocery store located in the adjacent census tract is plotted with a red x. This store lies within the 1-mile radius.