Simplified: Sioux Falls is asking its businesses, nonprofits and residents to get creative in solving the hunger needs in town. And the city has $400,000 for those who have good ideas.
Why it matters
- An estimated 30,000+ people in Sioux Falls live in areas the federal government categorizes as "low income" and as having "low food access," per data presented to City Council Tuesday.
- Those are also two main ingredients in making a food desert. Sioux Falls Simplified did a deep dive into food deserts (and why the fix for hunger isn't all that simple) late last year. More on that here.
- Now, the city has created the "Eat Well, Sioux Falls" grant program, asking people to submit innovative ideas to make food – specifically fresh fruits and vegetables – more accessible to these neighborhoods in an effort to promote health.
"You hear that a lot, your zip code is a better predictor of health than the genetic code," said Mary Michaels, Live Well Sioux Falls public health prevention coordinator.
What's the context?
Conversations about food deserts sprung up late last year after Hy-Vee announced the closure of its West 10th Street store, leaving only one traditional grocery store in the northwest quadrant of town.
But in parts of Sioux Falls, food access has been a challenge for years.
- A 2018 Augustana Research Institute study in partnership with Sioux Falls Thrive showed a number of food deserts in the city.
- Many of the census tracts identified as low-income, low access today were the same in 2015, per USDA data.
The Eat Well, Sioux Falls grant program is possible in part because of the federal funds Sioux Falls received during the pandemic through the American Rescue Plan Act.
- Sioux Falls City Council approved the $400,000 price tag on the grant program during Tuesday night's meeting.
“Improving access to healthy food options is a key strategy in addressing food insecurity in Sioux Falls," Mayor Paul TenHaken said in a statement.
How does the grant program work?
Anyone can apply, including for-profit, nonprofit and cooperative entities.
Here's what the city is looking for:
- Establishment of a grocery store, supermarket or innovative program to increase access to healthy foods,
- A plan that is equitable and likely to be successful,
- A plan that includes increasing of fresh produce and meat products
- Something that's going to be sustainable long-term.
"This isn't a one-time charitable food giveaway," Michaels said.
Grant funds cannot be used for:
- A business with alcohol or tobacco sales as the primary source of revenue,
- Political activities,
- Or to start restaurants, cafes, or other prepared-food businesses.
What happens next?
Applications are available now on the city's website.
The applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the $400,000 is spent.