By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory
Very soon in Washington D.C., ride-share company Lyft will be offering affordable rides to people who live in food deserts. The goal is to help low-income households who live far from grocery stores and don’t have access to cars to secure a ride to the store.
A food desert is an area where more than 40 percent of homes are located over one-and-a-half miles from a grocery store. According to Lyft and Martha’s Table, 81% of residents in D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8 live in a food desert. They, along with 23.5 million people living in food deserts across America, have little access to fresh and healthy food. As a result, they are more likely to suffer from health issues and obesity.
Market Watch reports:
“When people live far away from a grocery stores, they’re more likely to result to eating fast food or processed junk food from convenience stores. And people who live in poor socioeconomic neighborhoods have 2.5 times more exposure to fast food restaurants than those in higher income neighborhoods.”
The Lyft Grocery Access Program will begin next year in Washington, D.C. For the initiative, Lyft partnered with Martha’s Table, a D.C.-based nonprofit that provides families with access to healthy food, clothing, and education.
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Families who qualify for the program will be allowed to use up to 50 rides and pay just $2.50 both ways to and from the nearest grocery store in their neighborhood. Lyft and Martha’s Table specifically chose only full-service grocery stores for the program. This will ensure shoppers have greater access to nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables versus junk food.
Reportedly, the discount can’t be used on rides going anywhere than the nearby stores in the program. Though some may take advantage of the system, Lyft and Martha’s Table are hopeful that the initiative will reduce the time, financial burden, and transportation barriers hundreds of families face as they meal plan and prepare for the week.
So far, it is unclear whether or not the plan will be rolled out nationally. Steve Taylor, Lyft’s Mid-Atlantic General Manager, told Moneyish in an email: “We think this is just the beginning, and we hope to continue to engage in D.C.’s food ecosystem beyond this pilot program.”
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IMAGE CREDIT: Maria Savenko