RAPID CITY, S.D. — The closure of almost a quarter of Rapid City’s grocery stores is sparking concerns about food availability among some residents and organizations in the South Dakota city.

Michigan-based SpartanNash announced last month that three of its Rapid City stores — Prairie Market, Family Thrift Center and Family Thrift Express — will close in October in an effort to consolidate. The city of roughly 74,000 residents has a total of 13 grocery stores, the Rapid City Journal reported .

Officials of nonprofit Feeding South Dakota said the closures will result in “food deserts,” or areas without grocery stores, and particularly affect low-income residents. It also means a loss of stores within walking distance for people in the city’s central and western neighborhoods.

Mary Corbine, food security manager at Feeding South Dakota, has been working with a food security committee through the Rapid City Collective Impact since April. The Food Security Oversight Committee, which is made up of representatives from nearly two dozen local and area charitable organizations, determines whether there are enough food sources for neighborhoods that will be adversely affected by the store closures.

“This work was already happening,” Corbine said. “We were already collecting this when the closure of the grocery stores was being announced. That just added to the picture.”

There currently are 5,700 people per store in Rapid City, according to a statement from the Collective Impact. That number will increase to 7,400 people per store after the store closures, but it’s still under the national average of 8,800 residents per supermarket, according to data from the Food Market Institute and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Rapid City resident Brittany Romey said people in nearby apartments may not be able to easily change to another store.

“A lot of people walk here, and it’s right in the middle for people to go,” she said.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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