New data from the USDA shows that many parts of Texoma are in a Food Desert – a place where more than 33% percent of the population does not have easy access to a supermarket or large grocery store that sells healthy produce. For urban areas, that means a store more than a mile away, and for rural areas, a more than 10 miles away.
On an interactive map, the data shows that the Sunnyside area of Wichita Falls is one of the worst areas in Texoma. 100% of the population in that area is affected by the desert.
Among the affected residents is Bill Gill. He does not have a car and uses the Falls Ride system to make grocery runs. "I don't think its acceptable, I think we ought to have stores close by if we need to go," he said.
Gill's only option within walking distance – although nearly a mile away – is a complex of fast food and convenience stores at US287 and Windthorst Road."If I go to Loves, I can go up there and get a Subway sandwich, or something like that, or a bag of chips or something. You know, fast food. That's about it," he said.
Fast food, in a word, is bad for your body. "Fast foods are high in fat, high in cholesterol, high in calories as opposed to the vegetables and fruits you're getting the nutrients that you need without getting all the caloric intake," explained Shannon Fleming, RN. Nurse Fleming is a public health educator. She says limited options lead to bad decisions by default. "They're going to purchase what's available and fast food is just right around the corner from anywhere… They will have little grocery stores that will have twinkies and ho ho's but they're not going to have the fruits and vegetables," she explained.