OPINIONWellness

How Smartphones Can Help Combat Food Deserts

54 million Americans live far from a supermarket

The Lempert Report

We talk a lot about food deserts as it is a very serious problem, and until we can correctly respond to the food and nutritional needs of those who reside in food deserts, we just can’t stop trying.

A Yale University analysis found that most people in food deserts in eight states would increase their access to healthy, nutritious food if they purchased groceries online and had their food delivered as part of the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Yale analysis showed that online grocery delivery systems already cover about 90% of food deserts—places where access to healthy food is limited—in the eight states: Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington.

SNAP began a pilot program in which shoppers had the option of buying food through online grocery delivery services. The program was established by the 2014 Farm Bill; it may be considered for national implementation after the pilot ends in 2021.

According to the Food Access Research Atlas, 17.7% of the U.S. population, or 54.4 million people, live in tracts that are low income and low access and are more than a half-mile or 10 miles from the nearest supermarket, and many have no access to a vehicle. But in 2018, 71% of people with a household income of $30,000 or less own a smartphone—so the Yale report does have validity with its premise. But they are forgetting one very important fact. Many of these people do not have a secure area where more nutritious and healthy groceries can be delivered while they are at work.

Let's not assume that everyone, regardless of income, are sitting at home waiting for their groceries to be delivered.

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