Access to healthy foods*

Updated 3/26/19 – *Note that this measure is also a physical determinant of health

The physical infrastructure and environment matter to resident’s health, as well as the economy. The greater the access to healthy foods, the more likely people will make healthy choices. Not having a driver’s license, limits access to healthy foods.

The County Health Rankings food environment index equally weights: 1) limited access to healthy foods which estimates the percentage of the population who are low income (family income ≤ 200% of federal poverty threshold for the family size) and do not live close to a grocery store (< 10 miles inrural areas; ≤ 1 mile non-rural); and 2) food insecurity which estimates the percentage of the population who did not have access to a reliable source of food during the past year, using information from the USDA Food Environment Atlas, Map the Meal Gap.


  • Beginning with the 2012 rankings, the County Health Rankings define living close to a grocery store differently in rural areas living <10 miles from a grocery store vs. non-rural areas <1 mile; low income is defined as having an annual family income ≤ 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold for the family size.
  • The the 2010 rankings, access to healthy foods was based on the percentage of Zip codes within a county with a grocery store with more than 4-employees or a produce stand/farmer’s market (as defined by NAICS codes); the 2011 rankings were based on the percentage of residential Zip codes with a healthy food outlet (data are from the US Census Bureau’s Zip Code Business Partners)

County Health Ranking Notes:

  • 2012 rankings used 2006 data; 2013-17 used 2010 data; 2018-19 used 2015 data

Washoe County is developing a planning framework for food system policy design within the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan, to ensure residents have access to affordable, available and appetizing healthful food, with the target of overall community health. A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding the community (growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing and the consumption of food–related items. Future data collection and tracking will be required.

The USDA, Economic Research Service, Food Atlas, cites 1.1% of households without a car and more than 1 mile to a grocery store in 2006; and 5.6% low-income the same distance.


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, County Health Rankings;

CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System;

USDA, Economic Research Service

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