Virtual Supermarket helps “food-desert” neighborhoods

Food desert neighborhoods are a real problem in America. Here’s a solution and another item for the good government file, from The Baltimore Sun:

An innovative, city-operated food-delivery program in Baltimore aims to tackle the longtime problem of neighborhoods that lack supermarkets…by bringing fresh produce and healthy supermarket fare to residents through a free delivery system that operates with the click of a mouse from the library.

The Virtual Supermarket Project offers library laptops where residents can order groceries online from [a local supermarket] and pick them up at their neighborhood library the next day.

“We know in communities around this library and in Washington Village residents must choose between shopping at corner stores that lack fresh produce or pay a premium for a ride outside their neighborhood, and we know this is not a fair choice,” said Olivia D. Farrow, Baltimore’s interim health commissioner. “Most city residents enjoy access to full service, competitively priced grocery stores. The residents of East Baltimore and Washington Village deserve no less.”

In the neighborhood surrounding Baltimore’s Orleans Street library, healthy food is a luxury. There’s a Burger King and a cluster of corner stores and carryouts, but not a single supermarket within walking distance. It’s no wonder, say health officials, that the neighborhood has one of the highest mortality rates in the city with alarmingly high rates of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.