Grocery Store Closings Exacerbate Food Desert In Rapid City, Group Says

Aug 11, 2017

Credit Rapid City Collective Impact

Last month, grocery distributor SpartanNash announced it will close three grocery stores in Rapid City in October.

According to a food security group in the city, that will create critical gaps in food availability to neighborhoods north of downtown.

In April, Mary Corbine started analyzing income levels and walking distances to grocery stores in Rapid City. Then in July,  SpartanNash officials announced they would close two Family Thrift grocery stores, and the Prairie Market grocery store.

“I don’t see this as a crisis. Do I see this as a concern? Yes," Corbine says.

Corbine is a food security manager for Feeding South Dakota. She put together this map to go along with Rapid City Collective Impact’s food security efforts.

Her concern is this: that the closure of the three grocery stores will create an access gap for people in Rapid City, especially those with lower incomes.

She says the closures will only expand the city’s food desert north of downtown.

Corbine says transportation to and from grocery stores is a big issue.

“National statistics tell us that a half a mile, or a quarter mile, is about the distance a person could walk or have to go with limited transportation with their groceries. Any more than that would be outside of that range and be very difficult to get the groceries that you need,” Corbine says. “That’s what we’re looking at. What’s a quarter mile from the grocery stores? What’s a half mile away from the grocery stores? When you remove those three grocery stores it really puts a hole in Rapid City.”

City officials say they’re working with economic development partners to attract another grocery store to those areas. They say these store closings leave a golden opportunity for prospective companies to open up shop in the empty facilities.

For roughly 15 years, three grocery stores operated along the Omaha Street corridor, where two of three stores are closing. The city says that proves there’s a need in the area.