Friday’s announcement that yet another grocery store is closing in rural Kansas was sad news. Now, unless another option materializes for the people of St. John, that town will join the ranks of what in the past decade has come to be known as the “food desert.”
According to the USDA,”food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.”
Food deserts in urban areas are defined by 1-mile markers, but a 10-mile marker is used to consider food access in rural areas. Located over 27 miles from Great Bend, and over 12 miles from Stafford, hopefully Rep. Greg Lewis, R-St. John will be able to find a solution for his home town.
Where large corporations like Dillon’s find it unfeasible to continue to operate, opportunity knocks for the innovative small business person. Other towns that have experienced the same circumstances as St. John faces now have shown creativity. Community markets, mobile markets, and community gardens have emerged. As a neighbor, we are concerned, and also hopeful and interested to discover how St. John will move forward.