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Escape the Food Desert with Lyft

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Grocery Store

Photo: Jay Phagan

Ride-share app Lyft recently announced its latest move to help people and families in need. Starting in January, the Lyft Grocery Access Program will kick off its pilot in Washington D.C. with the assistance of non-profit Martha’s Table. Qualifying families living in food deserts will be able to take 50 rides to the nearest supermarket in a Lyft vehicle for a reduced fare of just $2.50.


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According to Dictionary.com, a food desert is “an area, usually low-income, in which many residents cannot easily get to stores that sell affordable, healthful foods.” While there might be convenience stores serving food deserts with snacks and drinks, these zones lack regular access to fresh, unprocessed products needed for a balanced diet. MarketWatch reports that people living in food deserts are at higher risk for obesity because of their increased exposure to fast and junk food options compared to wealthier neighborhoods. While for many people this wouldn’t be an issue because they can hop in their personal vehicle, the poverty in these regions can take away that option.

From January to June of 2019, Lyft plans on operating this new program before possibly expanding it to other markets. Households must have a student zoned in D.C.’s Wards 7 or 8, which puts most of the target population in the capital’s east side. Over 81 percent of in these areas are in the area designated as a food desert. By providing an easy and affordable way to access better options, Lyft and Martha’s Table are trying to remove some of the barriers between these families and long, healthy lives.


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So far, Lyft is mum on when the program could roll out to other urban food deserts. We’ll see how this pilot does and cross our fingers that it goes well.

News Source:  MarketWatch, Dictionary.com