Fighting food deserts and taking the week off

by Terry B on December 28, 2011

Holidays, birthdays, houseguests and other pleasant distractions have kept us preoccupied in the kitchen this week. We’ve mainly been whipping up reliable favorites or ordering in pizza to keep everyone fed and happy. So no recipe this week. But don’t worry, we’ll cook up something fresh next week.

Instead, I’d like to tell you about my latest USA Character Approved Blog post. One of the great things about writing pieces for this blog is discovering cool new things in food—everything from chefs to trends, restaurants, cookbooks and people working to help us all eat healthier. Stockbox Grocers is one of the coolest stories I’ve come across in a while.

Food deserts—urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food—play a major role in our national epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other diet-related illnesses. Stockbox Grocers, the brainchild of two recent MBA graduates in Seattle, is attacking the problem with a business-savvy solution. They’re opening micro grocery stores in reclaimed shipping containers. The tiny stores have much lower start-up costs than opening big box supermarkets. And by carrying a limited stock of items people use frequently—milk, dairy, meat, produce, soup, cereal, spices, baking supplies and other staples—the stores produce a higher profit margin, encouraging entrepreneurs to open stores in underserved communities.

Their pilot program this fall in Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood was a big success both with the community and as a business model. To read more about the two women who are showing that doing good can be good business, check out my latest post on the USA Character Approved Blog.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alma December 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Have you read about a similar thing happening in Chicago, where people are making groceries inside of CTA buses? I like how different communities are attacking the problem in such varied ways.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-englewood-food-bus-20110417,0,5576376.story

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) December 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Years ago, students in a study-abroad program I worked for came home after a year of world travel and started something called People’s Grocery in Oakland, with an eye toward addressing these very issues. Nice to see the movement morph in new and exciting ways.

Susie December 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Wow, what a great idea!

Terry B December 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I hadn’t heard of Fresh Moves before, Alma, but what a great solution to the problem of food deserts. It looks like the idea is spreading to other cities too, including Memphis.

You know, Lydia, if enough private initiatives like this keep proving that there’s a need and there is money to be made in underserved communities, maybe major grocers and retailers of other sorts will start thinking outside the big box.

It is a great idea, Susie, as is the Fresh Moves bus concept. If anyone else knows of other such food desert solutions, I’d love to hear about them.

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