Do you live in a food desert? If you have trouble getting access to healthy produce then Lyft wants to help. They’re testing out the Lyft Grocery Access program to provide low-cost transportation.
What Is a Food Desert?
People who live in a food desert have limited access to whole foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. Most commonly, these are people living in low-income areas. They don’t have farmer’s markets or high-quality grocery stores nearby. Instead, they end up getting a lot of their meals from convenience stores and fast food restaurants. This isn’t always about choice; it’s about access.
Lyft Grocery Access Program
Lyft has been partnering with non-profit organizations and local communities to offer a new service called Lyft Grocery Access. It’s designed to offer affordable transportation to healthful grocery stores.
It’s typically a long ride to commute from a food desert to a place that sells healthy food. That ride would cost too much for most people living in those low-income areas. However, with this new program, Lyft offers that same long ride for just $2.50. This makes it a lot more practical for food desert residents to access healthier groceries. Access to healthy food is a critical component of overall health.
Lyft Grocery Access Pilot Program: Part 1
Lyft started with a pilot program to see how well this idea would work. For the first six months of 2019, the program served approximately 500 families in a food desert in Washington, DC. Lyft offered shared rides to those families at the discounted $2.50 rate. They collected information to help them work out the kinks in the program.
Lyft Grocery Access Pilot Program: Part 2
The pilot program was a success. People living in the food desert were able to access healthier food thanks to affordable transportation to better grocery stores.
Therefore, Lyft has now expanded the program. Lyft Grocery Access is now available in 15 different food desert locations across the United States and Canada. Those locations are:
- Atlanta, GA
- Atlantic City, NJ
- Baltimore, MD
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Detroit, MI
- Indianapolis, IA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Miami, FL
- Ottawa, Canada
- Philadelphia, PA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Portland, OR
- Richmond, VA
- Toronto, Canada
The Program Varies Slightly By Location
Lyft Grocery Access is still a new program. Of course, like many other rideshare services, it varies from location to location. Lyft partners locally with food banks and farmer’s markets to figure out who is eligible to participate in each community.
Generally speaking, if you’re in a food desert in one of the aforementioned areas and you qualify for food stamps, then you will probably qualify for Lyft Grocery Access. Often, these people are referred to the program through existing service. For example, in Miami, a program called Health in the Hood makes those referrals. The rideshare rate for participants will always be low but it may vary slightly from the original $2.50 price.