266871 Virtual Supermarket Program: Bringing Groceries to Food Desert Communities in Baltimore City

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 11:10 AM - 11:30 AM

Laura Fox, MPH , Office of Policy and Planning, Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore, MD
Eric Jackson, MSW , Office of Policy and Planning, Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore, MD
Tiombe Mitchell , Office of Policy and Planning, Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore, MD
Leah Hart , Public Health Nursing, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimroe, MD
Nadine S. Braunstein, PhD, RD, LDN , Office of Collaborative Programs, Towson University, College of Health Professions, Towson, MD
INTRODUCTION: The Virtual Supermarket Program (VSP) demonstrates that online grocery delivery is a viable solution to bring healthy and affordable food options to low-income food desert neighborhoods. METHODS: The VSP enables residents to place grocery orders at their local library, elementary school, senior/disabled housing building or even from their own computer to be picked up at their community site for no delivery cost. VSP staff provides assistance to residents without computer access or experience. Residents can pay for their groceries using cash, credit, debit and EBT/SNAP. To encourage healthy eating, the program provides recipe cards, healthy cooking demonstrations, and a $10 incentive coupon for healthy food. RESULTS: We anticipate having more than 250 customers, 1,500 orders, and $25,000 worth of groceries purchased by September 2012. We hope to demonstrate that over 80% of our customers indicate that the VSP has improved their access to healthy and affordable foods. The VSP demonstrates how a public-private partnership between a health department and an independent grocer can bring groceries to food desert communities. To date, the VSP is the only online grocery delivery program that accepts SNAP. DISCUSSION: Locating supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods is not an option in many areas. The VSP is a solution to not having a store, as it brings high-quality, affordable groceries to the food desert communities, providing residents with the opportunity to purchase healthier foods and make long term diet improvements. The VSP is a replicable model that can be implemented in other urban food desert communities.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1. Demonstrate how a public-private partnership can bring healthier food options to food desert communities; 2. Demonstrate how bulk delivery of groceries to community sites is a viable solution to food desert elimination; and 3. Discuss how EBT/SNAP acceptance with online grocery delivery is a means of bringing food to low-income communities.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Access

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Program Coordinator of the Virtual Supermarket Program. I oversee all aspects of the Virtual Supermarket Program and have been the Coordinator since July 2010.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.