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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Environmental Health Note/Grocery Gap

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on supermarket shuttle services that benefit both the customer and the store.


CURWOOD: Coming up, this place called home as seen by young people in urban America. First, this environmental health note form Diane Toomey.

[MUSIC: Health Note Theme]

TOOMEY: For people who live in urban low-income neighborhoods, fresh, healthy food can be hard to come by. For one, full-service supermarkets are scarce in these areas. What's more, many of these residents can't shop elsewhere because they don't own cars. The so-called grocery gap means these people must buy their food at small convenience stores that usually offer a small selection of nutritional food at higher prices. This may, in part, explain why low-income households eat so few fruits and vegetables.

According to one study, only about a quarter of people who earn less than $15,000 a year eats the recommended five or more daily servings of these foods. Now, a study done by researchers at the University of California at Davis has found that a supermarket shuttle service may not only benefit customers, it may be good for business, too. Researchers looked at the feasibility of shuttle programs in a number of low-income California neighborhoods, and found that the handful of supermarkets that offered a free shuttle generated two to three times the revenue from produce and perishable items compared to the industry standard.

One Los Angeles store estimates that its shuttle service, which offers rides home to customers who spend at least $25, generated more than $27,000 in additional weekly revenue. What's more, a shuttle service appeared to cut down on the theft of shopping carts that are often taken by people who don't have cars to cart home their bags of groceries. That’s this week's health note. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Govinda “City of Pleasures” Erotic Rhythms from Earth – Earthtone (2001)]



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