Hunger amidst plenty.
Houston’s food deserts.

0 M
People live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.
0 K+

Houston residents live in USDA-designated food desert areas.

0 %

Of individuals have an income at or below the federal poverty level for family size.

Food deserts are regions where accessing affordable, nutritious food is challenging. These areas may lack convenient access to grocery stores, making it hard to find healthy options. Alternatively, healthy food might be available, but the prices are often too high for many residents to afford.

Food deserts are a significant issue in Houston, particularly in neighborhoods with high poverty levels. These areas often lack proper access to transportation, making it tough for residents to reach grocery stores. Additionally, food deserts are linked to lower education levels, high unemployment rates, and a prevalence of abandoned buildings.

Food deserts in Houston


In Houston, food deserts disproportionately affect primarily Black communities. Even in areas with similar poverty levels, Black neighborhoods have less access to grocery stores and fresh food, according to a 2014 national study.

For residents of Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood, accessing groceries is a challenge. The closest supermarket is approximately two miles away, requiring a daunting journey across sixteen lanes of highway or a half-mile walk to the nearest bus stop for those without access to a car.


Harris County 2020

No Data Found


Harris County 2018 – 2020

No Data Found


Harris County 2020













Efforts in Houston have focused on expanding the number of grocery stores to improve access to fresh food for residents of food deserts, who currently face long commutes to reach grocery stores. The Houston Grocery Access Task Force, established by the city government, advocates for targeted investment in underserved areas to encourage grocery store development. However, simply increasing grocery stores isn’t enough, as affordability remains a challenge for low-income individuals. Grocery stores in food deserts must accept federal food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, highlighting the need for comprehensive solutions that address both access and affordability.

Improving transportation options is essential for addressing food deserts, alongside increasing local access to healthy food. Enhancements to public transportation, such as adding bus stops or implementing neighborhood shuttle systems, can facilitate easier access to grocery stores. Initiatives like Lyft’s Grocery Access Program, which offers discounted rides to grocery stores, have shown promise in other cities and could benefit residents of food deserts in Houston by making inconvenient grocery stores more accessible.

Urban Harvest, a program in Houston, focuses on enhancing access to fresh produce by supporting the development of urban community gardens in food deserts. With over 140 gardens receiving free resources, materials, and education, they aim to empower local communities. Additionally, Urban Harvest organizes large farmers markets in the city, offering an alternative to traditional grocery stores for purchasing healthy food options.

Various solutions could aid in addressing food deserts in Houston. These include providing financial incentives and support for neighborhood-based grocery stores and farmers markets, along with offering discounted prices to residents. Additionally, increasing financial assistance for individuals living in food deserts to purchase food and implementing restrictions on the placement of dollar stores, which can displace grocery stores, are potential strategies. Moreover, enhancing public health education to promote healthy eating habits is crucial. While some of these solutions are already underway, further efforts are needed to effectively combat food deserts in the city.