Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

JANESVILLE — In a new report released Wednesday, the Rock County Health Department is recommending increased food initiatives on Janesville’s southside focusing on access to healthy food.

The Food Environment Report was released on the same day that the Rock County Civics Academy brought together leaders from Janesville and Madison to discuss options for a southside Janesville grocery and overall commercial development in that part of the city.


The report found that as income increases, so does the presence of food within the household.

Conversely, the Rock County survey results confirm that food deserts are typically found in lower-income census tracts, which is valid for Rock County.

Janesville has 29% of residents living below a basic survival budget, however the majority of those residents live on the southside, according to the report.

Additionally, people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged tend to have decreased access to healthy food retail outlets. This creates a vicious cycle of chronic disease, such as obesity, poverty, and a never-ending cycle of employment hardship and affordability constraints, according to the report.

In addition to grocery stores, the northside of Janesville is heavy in other categorized food retailers and restaurants.

The southside of Janesville is disproportionately served in terms of access to food. In the food environment survey, 17.28% of respondents in the open comment section indicated the need for healthy food and grocers on the southside of Janesville, according to the report.

The Nutrition Collaborative of Rock County will use the data presented here to create a plan to improve food access and decrease barriers to obtaining healthy food and help improve food security for residents.

If you would like to join the collaborative or learn more about the efforts, please contact the Nutrition Collaborative of Rock County at

By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak of Janesville is founder of the Janesville News Report