Baltimore Goes By-The-Book Dealing With Food Deserts
Food deserts, most public health officials agree, are a
major problem when it comes to tackling some of the most pressing issues of
the day such as obesity, diabetes, etc. But, the fact that many of these deserts
are located in poorer neighborhoods that make it difficult for food retailers
to conduct business profitably means that grocers are not rushing in.
and its food czar Hooly Freishtat have an answer for that. The city has created
a virtual supermarket, TakePart reports, that may demonstrate a
way for government and business to work together to turn a food desert into
The system is straightforward. Citizens in poor neighborhoods with
no supermarkets go to one of two centrally-located libraries where they use
the computers to place orders. The next day they can return to the library
to pick up their groceries, delivered by Santoni’s Supermarket. Customers can
pay by cash, credit, check and food stamps. There is no charge for delivery.
the future, Baltimore is looking to use local parks and recreation facilities
to deliver healthful foods to citizens in need.
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Baltimore’s virtual supermarket
approach to dealing with the food desert issue? Will this work elsewhere? Are
there other innovation approaches to food deserts that you think are worthy of
[Editor’s Note] Another Baltimore initiative is urban gardens. According to TakePart,
the city’s Office of Sustainability is looking at 10,000 vacant lots to determine
if they are suitable for growing foods.
Beth Strommen, director of the city’s
Office of Sustainabilty, told TakePart, “I
see myself as a person who’s there to help [farmers and people who want to
garden] navigate the bureaucracy… What I’ve got to do to make this work
right now is to keep their costs down.”