Understanding Food Insecurity in Shawnee County


Key Points

    • In 2019, more than 1 in 10 (11.6 percent) Shawnee County residents were food insecure, which was similar to the food insecurity rate in Kansas overall (12.1 percent), but far from the Healthy People 2030 goal of 6.0 percent.
    • Approximately 1 in 6 (16.7 percent) children in Shawnee County were food insecure in 2019.
    • The two ZIP Codes (66603 and 66612) with the highest rates of both food insecurity (29.2 percent and 28.9 percent respectively in 2019) and poverty (37.8 percent and 37.6 percent respectively according to 2015-2019 5-year estimates) were both located in Central Topeka.
    • In 2019, 11 census tracts in Shawnee County were designated as food deserts (areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food).
    • About half (52.3 percent) of all people eligible in Shawnee County received Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits according to 2017-2019 3-year estimates.

Eliminating food insecurity has been an ongoing priority for many partners in Shawnee County, especially now given the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic well-being and food access in the community.

To support and advance community efforts around food security, the Shawnee County Health Department, in collaboration with the Shawnee County Farm and Food Advisory Council and Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, commissioned the Kansas Health Institute to develop this report, Understanding Food Insecurity in Shawnee County. This project was supported by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Chronic Disease Risk Reduction grant.

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About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

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