Hungry Heartland: Rural food deserts in Kansas

Luke Mahin, RCED Director: Not everything is black and white in rural, especially food access. The videos and blogs below were produced by students in Art, English, and Journalism departments at KSU. They worked to expand on the story of food deserts in rural Kansas.

RCED assisted in connecting the KSU students and instructor Dr. Tom Hallaq with individuals, businesses, and organizations in relation to food deserts in our county. Thanks to the Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center for their support of the project among all the others credited.

Local food has an opportunity in our county and region to grow. Our immediate need is to continue support existing grocery stores and the farmers market. RCED is happy to play a supporting role in Cuba Cash Store staying open with revolving loan funding and educational opportunities with Rural Grocery Initiative and NetWork Kansas.

If you want to see other great examples of food businesses in our county check out Foodmart Thriftway‘s continued reinvestment in their store and C & C High Tunnel Farms with their own products and CSA vendors like C & S FarmsFree Day Popcorn Company, LLC, and others. And you can’t leave out the great season produce from Depot Market in Courtland.

Lastly, I want to mention the 12 county effort of the North Central Kansas Food Council to support our local food system for producers, consumers, retail, distribution, processing, and food waste.

To contribute to this project, please contact Dr. Tom Hallaq at or 801 232-9173 (cell).

Hungry Heartland – The Cuba Story

Hungry Heartland – Hungry Students: A Pike Valley Story

Hungry Heartland – College Students

Hungry Heartland – Farmers and Food Deserts

Hungry Heartland – Rural Grocers

Feed the Desert, blog


Helping the Hunger, blog


The Great Midwestern Desert, blog

america arid bushes california

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba, KS


North Central Kansas Food Council 
Republic County Statistic Highlights 

  • Agriculture, food, and food processing sectors employ more than 1,200 people and contribute more than $237 million to the county economy.
  • The county produces more than 12 million bushels of corn.
  • Republic County residents spend $13,179,434 annually on food.
  • 12.5% of Republic County households struggle to get enough food including 20.9% of children.
  • 30.2% of Republic County resident are low-income (200%+ below federal poverty level) and 29% of this population also has low food access (live in a food desert).
  • An estimated 1.4 million pounds of food is wasted annually in Republic County households.

Republic County Data by Luke Mahin on Scribd