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Interim session of the North Dakota Legislature to study rural grocery stores

Posted 5/30/19 (Thu)

A study of the distribution of food to rural communities and how state agencies may play a role will take place between June 2019 and 2021. A committee of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly selected to study this resolution, 4013

North Dakota has lost about 20 percent of our grocery stores in towns with populations of fewer than 2,100 people. When the Rural Grocer Initiative led by the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives began to study and act upon this trend of closure in 2013, there were 137 stores in North Dakota towns with 2,100 people or less. As of May 1, 2019, there are 104 stores remaining, with approximately 10 more with ongoing concerns. View the grocery/food desert map on our Data page

  • Cost, travel distance, and food quality are all factors that influence rural families’ efforts to get food.
  • Living closer to healthy food retail is associated with better eating habits and lower risk for diet-related chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes, and there is a strong negative correlation between the distance people drive for food and people's health.
  • While there are other types of stores in rural areas that might also offer food that comes in boxes, cans, or packages, it is nearly impossible to put together a health promoting daily diet without access to fresh or frozen food: fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy products. While more North Dakota residents may order groceries from large online retailers, to our knowledge, there is not yet delivery of perishable products from these businesses to anywhere in North Dakota.
  • Rural grocery stores can be considered part of the infrastructure a community needs to keep itself vibrant and fed. Many rural groceries, like some rural roads, bridges, tracks, and communication lines, face issues of older structures and aging equipment. We can consider access to the places where we rural residents can obtain life’s necessities of food as infrastructure

Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota Partners look forward to the opportunity to inform and take part in the study and hearings over the next two years.