Food delivery apps present possibility for food deserts

Natalie Espinoza and her crew are packing up meals packing containers for supply in a close-by group.

“On Mondays and Tuesdays, we build our no-cost grocery program boxes,” Natalie Espinoza, the affiliate director of the meals entry division at The GrowHaus, mentioned. “There is no grocery store within walking distance.”

The space they primarily serve is called a meals desert, a spot with restricted entry to inexpensive, nutritious meals.

“We really strive to not just provide food, but to provide healthy, fresh food,” Espinoza mentioned.

These packing containers are taped up and despatched off. The GrowHaus companions with supply packages, together with DoorDash, to get this meals the place it must go.

“We’ve known since the pandemic has hit that Americans’ demand for delivery has skyrocketed, both in terms of groceries and fresh food,” Adie Tomer, a senior fellow on the Brookings Institution, mentioned. Brookings is a analysis group.

Tomer just lately authored a research that discovered greater than 93 % of Americans reside in neighborhoods the place they can entry at the very least one supply service. This is predicated on information from 4 main suppliers – Walmart, Amazon, Instacart and Uber Eats.

“Over 90 percent of food desert residents are able to access at least one of these services,” Tomer mentioned.

“There has been a drastic shift in the food and grocery industry since 2020. The pandemic forced a level of digitization and other innovation within two years that could have otherwise taken 5 to 10 years,” Maggie Brown, the CEO of Bondadosa, mentioned. Bondadosa is a social venue that gives logistics and transportation to ship meals.

Brown mentioned meals supply in meals deserts has extra advantages than downsides.

“For families that have one or both parents or guardians working, food delivery has been a huge help, especially relating to after-school meals,” Brown mentioned.

While the thought of getting meals supply in areas with little recent meals entry appears promising, Tomer mentioned there are some setbacks.

“It does not actually solve food access issues, which are often tied to lower incomes or other conditions. What it does mean is that the idea of just bringing fresh food into a neighborhood is not the only way to make sure houses actually have food on their proverbial table to eat every day,” he mentioned.

Some of the limitations embody the price of supply and broadband entry.

“There are people who don’t have access to the internet, there are people who don’t have access to smartphones,” Espinoza mentioned.

“The pandemic, I feel, put a brand new lens on the truth that we’d like as many entry factors as doable as a result of persons are located in a different way,” Ellen Vollinger, SNAP director on the Food Research and Action Center, mentioned.

She mentioned despite the fact that meals supply has a methods to go to be an excellent resolution for meals deserts, she sees enhancements.

“We hope that people will take some of the lessons learned from the pandemic and take another look at what to do about these things,” Vollinger mentioned.

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