Food deserts are a crisis in urban areas. The inaccessibility of nutritious food-especially in low income communities-is a driving factor in the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease, whether one looks at Boston, Cape Town, or the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Approaches to the problem of urban food deserts that do not address the intersecting problems of access, cost and knowledge offer an incomplete solution to this growing global problem.
Access: 13.2 million residents of U.S. cities live in food deserts-more than one half mile from a grocery store. In London, 80% of the population of the inner core resides more than 1 km from shopping options. Food insecurity in Cape Town is 81% due to rapid unplanned urbanization and fragmented infrastructure. The problem of food distribution in these burgeoning global cities is pressing and requires a solution that can scale with the demographic changes that are taking place.
Cost: Inefficient distribution systems lead to more costly food for populations least able to afford it. In Boston's food deserts, residents pay 30% more for basic ingredients at the nearest store. Thereby, lack of price competition exacerbates inequalities of income and access.
Knowledge: Finally, the knowledge to prepare wholesome meals on a budget is a significant barrier to achieving healthier outcomes. Nearly twice the number of food desert residents rank cooking and meal planning to be greater barriers to healthy eating than accessing affordable ingredients.
Imagine if we could recreate an ecosystem of neighborhood food distribution in communities with inadequate access to healthy groceries without fixed cost investment or the disruption of major construction.
EatWell partners with community organizations to sell affordable, nutritious meal kits from pop-up retail locations at community centers, senior communities, and schools. Through streamlined sourcing and eliminating the need for fixed brick-and-mortar investments, EatWell sells ready-to-cook meals for 25% less than the cost at grocery stores. Embedded coaching teaches important culinary skills, leading to increased family nutrition and food security.