A new digital tool could help bring more supermarkets to south Dallas to tackle food insecurity.
The tool helps identify low-income communities where supermarkets are needed. It was developed by local researcher Edward Rincón in collaboration with Chetan Tewawi, an associate professor at the University of North Texas.
“Unlike a traditional site assignment study that identifies suitable locations for new facility placement, this study focuses on developing a new metric to estimate spatial demand patterns for home grocery spending,” Rincón wrote in the Demand study. Metrics for Supermarket Location Selection: A Case Study, ”published in April in Papers in Applied Geography.
Rincón is President of Rincón & Associates LLC, a Dallas-based research firm.
The new metric and tool called Urban Site Selection are available free of charge to Texas communities and anyone looking to invest in a supermarket in the state.
Rincón argues that large chain stores consciously or unconsciously participate in a type of redlining that discriminates against certain areas with low income or high crime rates.
Urban Site Selection was recently used by Cornerstone Baptist Church to open and operate the Southpoint Community Market in South Dallas.
Cornerstone pastor Chris Simmons and co-founder of the Southpoint grocery store said the evidence that a fresh produce store is needed in this community was partly provided by the tool.
The tool “provided evidence not only of the potential demand for a local grocery store in South Dallas, but also that it could be profitable if operated according to best practices,” Simmons said.
In the study, Rincón provides an economic profile for each Texas zip code with total income, including total “home dining” expenses and benefits received through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) buying groceries in supermarkets.
Gardens, tables and more
Other tactics used in Dallas to combat food insecurity include community gardens, blackboards, and community refrigerators.
These creative efforts are important, according to Rincón, because “Supermarket brands are realizing that their highly selective site selection strategies also reinforce redlining practices – whether intentional or not – and cannot be justified on the evidence available. “
One coalition trying to eradicate local food deserts is the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. The coalition was founded in 2012 by the Texas Hunger Initiative of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and, according to its website, tries to give people equal access to nutritious food.
Wyonella Henderson-Greene, coordinator for the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, believes the lack of investment in south Dallas is not just coming from supermarkets, but from businesses in general who prefer to locate in northern metropolitan cities.
“It’s racism, systematic racism,” said Henderson-Greene. “Either you want to invest in half of the city or you don’t.”
As an example of this lack of investment, Henderson-Greene cited southern Oak Cliff, whose residents spend their incomes and SNAP benefits on groceries but are forced to do so in other parts of the city.
People will spend their money on food somewhere. “Millions of dollars leave Oak Cliff every month to shop in other parts of town,” said Henderson-Greene. “Why shouldn’t people invest? [in the area] what if it weren’t for cultural bias, ethnic bias, or some other kind of bias? “
Where can you get food aid
Several organizations are trying to combat food deserts and reduce food insecurity in Dallas. You can check their websites and social media for events, including food pickup and distribution.
Feed the people of Dallas
GROW North Texas
Food bank in North Texas
The harvest project
The Oak Cliff Veggie Project
The people’s refrigerator