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Food Insecurity ⋆ Incarnate Word Foundation
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Food Insecurity

In the City of St. Louis

In 2014, 54.9% of St. Louis City residents lived in neighborhoods the USDA classified as food deserts. Local organizations are developing collaborative solutions to support food access in these communities and beyond. Still, there’s work to be done. Below are key access barriers and strategies the city can take to address food insecurity in St. Louis, identified by food access organization leaders. SOURCES: St. Louis Regional Food Study, St. Louis City Urban Agriculture Survey (STL Food Policy Coalition), Health Equity Series: Feeding St. Louis (Missouri Foundation for Health)

Access Barriers

Food Deserts

The USDA defines food deserts as neighborhoods without a full-service grocery store within a half mile. Improving public transportation and incentivizing store development can help address a lack in access.


Even if fresh produce is available, it can be unaffordable for low and middle-income consumers. SNAP, WIC, and food pantry organizations can address cost as an access barrier.

Nutritional Knowledge

If you didn't understand why something was good for you, what would make you want to eat it? Meal programs and nutrition classes can help increase access and develop nutritional knowledge.

Municipal Strategies

Supporting Urban Agriculture

  • Identifying parcels of LRA land well-suited to urban agriculture
  • Easing regulations for selling produce on-site
  • Engaging neighborhood residents in the land sale process

Economic Incentives

  • Tax incentives to support small-scale grocery store development
  • Supporting matching programs like “Double Up Food Bucks” in farmers markets and grocery stores


  • Supporting agency partnerships (St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, HEAL Partnership, etc.)
  • Working with stores in food desert communities to expand availability of local produce

Food Access Ecosystem Map

This map displays various organizations addressing food insecurity and increasing access to food in St. Louis City and County. The legend below describes the primary ways in which these organizations collaborate around this vital issue facing our community. (Information sourced from interviews with agencies in bold)

…and more, including:

  • City Greens
  • Communities Creating Opportunity – Nightlife
  • EarthDance
  • Gateway Greening
  • North Area Community Development Corporation
  • Northside Youth and Senior Service Center
  • Old North Restoration Group
  • Plenty STL
  • Revitalization 2000, Inc.
  • St. James Missionary Baptist Church
  • The Cowry Collective
  • Voices of Women