Photo: Kevin Grieve on Unsplash, Unsplash License[/caption]
The food desert problem in the U.S. originates in socio-structural issues that will require work from the ground up. For those of us who are new to the term, food deserts are defined as parts of the country that lack easy access to grocery stores containing healthful foods and vegetables. This is a complicated issue primarily affecting poor socioeconomic neighborhoods where transportation and resources are limited. Fast food restaurants litter these neighborhoods and contribute to the obesity epidemic as the only readily available, affordable, and easy options.
Wards 7 and 8 of Washington, D.C. are a perfect example of this, with only three grocery stores unrealistically expected to serve over 150,000 residents. About 81% of these residents are living in a food desert, more than the rest of D.C. combined. The majority of these people are living under the poverty line with Ward 7's median income at $45,469 and Ward 8's at $32,967. There's plenty that needs to be addressed, but the rideshare company, Lyft, is taking the first step by partnering with Martha's Table to try and bridge this gap.
Beginning January 1, Lyft will be offering grocery rides for only $2.50 to qualifying families. Families only need a child that is attending one of the seven participating elementary schools or is a part of Martha's Table's educational programming to be eligible for this program. Five hundred families will be selected to receive 50 rides each over the course of six months in an attempt to alleviate some of their daily stresses. The estimated cost for a family is $5 for a roundtrip a week.
Though Washington D.C. is a small reflection of the millions of people in the U.S. living in food deserts, this program has the potential to do a lot of good and hopefully inspire more action in the future.