Food Delivery With a Food Desert Twist

Lyft and the city of Baltimore try to tackle the food desert problem

The Lempert Report

The city of Baltimore and Lyft have created a new pilot partnership for people living in South and West Baltimore that offers people a Lyft ride to participating grocery stores.

Participating stores include Aldi, Harris Teeter, Giant, Eddie’s and Shoppers, and the fare is just $2.50 each way for up to eight trips a month. The pilot program runs through April, and may just be the best solution I’ve ever heard to solve the food desert problem. And certainly gives Lyft a much needed PR-positive aura.

This is important, according to the Baltimore Sun, as about 1 in 4 people in Baltimore lives in a food desert, more than 30% of its households don’t have cars, and it's more than a quarter-mile from a supermarket.

The city is also working to attract more supermarkets to underserved communities in Baltimore, including through a grocery store property tax credit.

“Sometimes you need to bring food to people and sometimes you need to bring people to food,” said Kristin Dawson of the Baltimore Development Corp.

Baltimore is one of more than a dozen cities partnering with Lyft on the grocery access program.  

A Morgan State University professor will study the program to evaluate its effectiveness. Already, officials are talking about how they hope to expand into new neighborhoods and go beyond the six-month pilot. In Baltimore, about 146,000 people live in food deserts.


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