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Lyft Offering Cheap Rides To Help Families In Food Deserts

Photo: Kevin Grieve on Unsplash, Unsplash License[/caption]

The food desert problem in the U.S. originates in socio-structural issues that will require work from the ground up. For those of us who are new to the term, food deserts are defined as parts of the country that lack easy access to grocery stores containing healthful foods and vegetables. This is a complicated issue primarily affecting poor socioeconomic neighborhoods where transportation and resources are limited. Fast food restaurants litter these neighborhoods and contribute to the obesity epidemic as the only readily available, affordable, and easy options.

Wards 7 and 8 of Washington, D.C. are a perfect example of this, with only three grocery stores unrealistically expected to serve over 150,000 residents. About 81% of these residents are living in a food desert, more than the rest of D.C. combined. The majority of these people are living under the poverty line with Ward 7’s median income at $45,469 and Ward 8’s at $32,967. There’s plenty that needs to be addressed, but the rideshare company, Lyft, is taking the first step by partnering with Martha’s Table to try and bridge this gap.

Beginning January 1, Lyft will be offering grocery rides for only $2.50 to qualifying families. Families only need a child that is attending one of the seven participating elementary schools or is a part of Martha’s Table’s educational programming to be eligible for this program. Five hundred families will be selected to receive 50 rides each over the course of six months in an attempt to alleviate some of their daily stresses. The estimated cost for a family is $5 for a roundtrip a week.

Though Washington D.C. is a small reflection of the millions of people in the U.S. living in food deserts, this program has the potential to do a lot of good and hopefully inspire more action in the future.

More details can be found on Lyft’s Grocery Access Program website.

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Feel Good Health News

For the First Time Ever, Food Stamp Users Can Buy Food Online

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Photo: Civil Eats

For those living in areas where fresh, healthy food is hard to find, this is amazing news and a true blessing.

The USDA announced the launch of a new pilot program for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to begin purchasing food online. This program is limited to a few states and retailers for now due to the higher security needed for food stamp online purchasing and the newness of the system. As the online system for SNAP food stamps is incorporated and security of the program tested, the USDA plans to expand this online system to all retailers nationwide in the future.

So far, the available retailers and states they will serve for the online order and purchase program is as follows:

Amazon – Maryland, New Jersey, New York

FreshDirect – New York

Safeway – Maryland, Oregon, Washington,

ShopRite – Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

Hy-Vee, Inc. – Iowa

Hart’s Local Grocers – New York (based in Rochester)

Dash’s Market – New York (based in Buffalo)

The launching of this program is great news for anybody on food stamps. While food stamps have allowed the purchase of healthier food in recent years, its always required going to a grocery store or food retailer to purchase food. The issue with that is that some of the 44 million people in SNAP live in so-called “food deserts,” or areas where grocery stores and establishments to purchase fresh food barely exist or don’t exist at all. At least 2 million low-income people live in food deserts without access to a vehicle.

With this online ordering program, people on SNAP will find it much easier to get the food they need. While the pilot program won’t cover service or delivery fees, it still provides welcome monetary relief and delivery convenience for those who live in food deserts.