Food Environment Map Release

Improving Food Access in Baltimore

Access to healthy food is a key determinant of health. Lack of easy access to healthy foods has a close and complex relationship with nutrition knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy; food security and household income; and environmental policies and systemic inequities.  These factors combine to affect the diets, and in turn the health, of low-income people.

Mapping the Food Environment

In Baltimore City, as in far too many other American cities, access to food is a challenge for low-income residents.  Baltimore City, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) produced the 2015 Food Environment Map and Report to draw attention to food access patterns in Baltimore City’s neighborhoods and to assist with policy development and implementation. Based on Baltimore’s food desert definition, the map shows where the need for improved access to healthy food is concentrated in terms of economic resources and store locations. The food environment map has been instrumental in developing BFPI’s Food Desert Retail Strategy to address healthy food access challenges and barriers in Baltimore City.

A food desert in Baltimore City is defined as:

  • An area where the distance to a supermarket or supermarket alternative is more than ¼ mile
  • The median household income is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Over 30% of households have no vehicle available
  • The average Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) score for all food stores is low

Food Environment Maps and Reports

2015 Food Environment Map: Baltimore City
Mapping Baltimore City’s Food Environment: 2015 Executive Summary
Mapping Baltimore City’s Food Environment: 2015 Report
Mapping Baltimore City’s Food Environment: 2015 Council District Maps

Policy and Programming Solutions

The Baltimore City Health Department addresses the health disparities that are driven by gaps in food access as a key collaborator in the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI) and through innovative, community-based Baltimarket programming.  BFPI is an inter-governmental collaboration with the Department of Planning, Baltimore Office of Sustainability, Baltimore Development Corporation and the Baltimore City Health Department.  The goal of BFPI is to increase access to healthy and affordable foods in Baltimore City food deserts. BFPI is doing this through a holistic and comprehensive food systems approach. 

To learn more about BCHD's community-based food access programs, visit the Baltimarket page or visit