Sustainability Problem: Food deserts
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as communities where a minimum of one-third of the population lives at least one mile away from a supermarket in an urban area or ten miles away in rural areas. Based on several reports, some 37million people or over 10% of US population live in food deserts – typically a low income neighborhood that lack access to nutritious food like fresh fruits and vegetables.
About the technology: PaySecure
- The links between food insecurity, hunger, and public health have prompted a variety of policy solutions. From small-scale farming to urban community gardens or the USDA Double Bucks program at farmer’s markets, which doubles the worth of every EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) dollar spent at the farm stand to financing new grocery stores in food deserts.
- In rural communities with smaller populations, economics does not support a grocery store every 10 miles. Similarly, no access to private cars and limited public transport makes it difficult to visit farmers market. Some elderly and disabled customers cannot navigate farmers markets or even grocery store aisles.
- Till recently EBT cards could only be used at physical grocery stores as recipients had to enter a personal identification number to verify their identity. Last year USDA partnered with a company called Acculynk, which develops a software for an online PIN-pad, a technology that protects users’ identity when shopping online. They further mandated a few food retailers to accept EBT card payment on their online ordering sites
- Though this is not a foolproof solution to tackle food insecurity as residents in many rural areas may run up against a lack of high speed internet access, it creates convenience and scale of reaching a wider population by moving away from brick and mortar grocery stores.
Government Agencies (USDA), Food Retailers offering online service and free delivery, Technology Companies that can offer PaySecure Technology and Residents living in food deserts
- Engage with and mandate several food retailers to accept EBT card payment.
- Improve internet connectively in specific rural areas of offer a centralized wifi hotspot with high speed interest access.
- Train and educate residents to order fresh food online
- Engage and encourage couple of unemployed residents in such neighborhood to register themselves with food retailers, who can employ them for delivery service. This to an extent will also tackle the unemployment issue faced in food deserts.
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