Local Foods Research and Outreach

Posted July 2, 2014, 4:41 p.m.

 The UNI GeoTREE Center carried out a small research project examining local food environments as part of a 2013-14 UNI Reaching for Higher Ground grant. Spatial analyses were carried out to examine the number of people living within certain (travel - walk, drive) distances of both convenience stores and grocery stores in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. These results were presented to local food advocates and others including a meeting attended by a representative from Kum & Go Corporation. The research results were provided to support local grower and food advocate Chad Thomas who was attempting to convince local convenience stores to carry more local produce. In addition, results of spatial analyses were provided to a group who are investigating the opening of a food co-op in Cedar Falls who were interested in the proximity of populations around convenience and grocery stores.

 Overall results of the research demonstrated that a much greater number of people live near convenience stores in the local area than do near a grocery store. For example, approximately 4 times more people live within an approximate 5 minute walk of a convenience store as compared to grocery stores (~26,000 vs. 7000). In addition, socio-demographic analyses demonstrated that populations nearer convenience stores are poorer and have higher minority percentages. In addition, the populations nearer convenience stores have a higher percentage of youth than Black Hawk County as a whole. Also based on a drive time analysis from grocery stores it can be seen that there are large areas of Waterloo and Cedar Falls which do not live close to a grocery stores. Notable areas include Northern Cedar Falls and Eastern Waterloo which have lower income populations.

A web mapping application has also been created to display proximity to grocery and convenience stores. The application can be viewed at either or At either of these a use can turn on or off the layers.

Finally, the GeoTREE Center and UNI Geography Graduate student Matt Cooney worked, in conjunction with the UNI CEEE, on creating a web mapping application for the Buy Fresh Buy Local program. See

Please contact John DeGroote at if any questions.