NPR reports on an innovative project in Baltimore to bring groceries to neighborhoods without access to a full-service store with fresh fruits and vegetables (called “food deserts”). Residents order online and pick up at the library:
Under a new city program, patrons can order groceries online and pay with cash, credit or food stamps. The orders are filled by Santoni’s supermarket, a longtime Baltimore grocer. They deliver the items to the library the next day.
[…] health department staffers spend a few hours each week helping patrons order their groceries online. One is Jackie Coles, a single mother of three who works as a custodian.
Like most in this neighborhood, she doesn’t own a car.
“The market around here has been closed for a little over a year,” Coles says. “And you have to go so far to get to another market. You know, you have to pay somebody to take you. Or it’s a long walk.”
But Coles is now a regular at the library. She gets books, plus easy access to healthier food options.
“Fruit is fresh. The vegetables are fresh. I get the butchered meat and all. It’s really good,” she says.
I don’t want to claim any credit whatsoever for this initiative, but I will say that a couple years ago I thought of using Tulsa’s local grocers (who have online ordering and delivery) to get groceries to our food deserts. We studied the feasibility and complications – the online systems don’t accept food stamps or WIC, they may not deliver to North Tulsa, people might not have access to the internet, perhaps deliveries could be made to CAP early childhood centers, etc. So I’m really happy to see that Baltimore figured it out using their library system – why didn’t Diama think of that?