Lyft, a San Francisco-based ride-sharing company, is teaming up with the city of Atlanta’s One Atlanta Office to make it easier for families living in Atlanta’s food deserts (or under-resourced communities) to access nutritious groceries. The pilot program will provide some affected residents with heavily discounted Lyft rideshare credits to nearby farmers markets and grocery stores.
The program is called Access AgAtlanta.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food deserts are defined as low-income communities lacking a one-mile radius to the closest supermarket or grocery store. In a 2017 report, 36% of Atlanta was classified as a food desert. By population in 2018, about 128,000 or 25% of Atlanta residents have to travel more than a half-mile to access fresh fruit and vegetables.
For families facing food hardship in these areas, transportation can be a major hurdle, with many lacking access to personal vehicles or accessible bus routes. This can adversely affect residents’ abilities to access healthy foods; for example, it may take them hours to reach a grocery store or supermarket via public transportation. Lyft’s partnership with the city seeks to alleviate these transportation obstacles.
For the duration of the six-month pilot, Lyft will provide 300 families with eight rides per month (four trips to and from participating grocery stores) for a Lyft Southeast General Manager Sam Bond said in a news release. “We want to help give families access to the healthy foods they need by easing the burden of traveling to food retailers. We’re committed to working towards a future in which Atlanta residents can fully overcome these barriers.”
This partnership is part of a broader, collaborative effort to increase Atlantans’ access to fresh, healthy food options. The city is partnering with Wholesome Wave Georgia, the Georgia Farmers Market Association and Community Farmers Markets Inc., local food markets and community organizations to overcome fresh food access challenges. Participants in Lyft’s pilot program will be able to take full advantage of the Georgia Fresh for Less program administered by Wholesome Wave Georgia, whereby SNAP benefits can be doubled at participating farmers markets.
“Despite being a large metropolis, transportation remains a barrier for many of our most under-resourced families in Atlanta,” Wholesome Wave Georgia President and CEO Denise Blake said in a news release. “This pilot program will provide much-needed relief and door-to-door service for families to access nutritious food right here in our city.”
This is not the first time Lyft has dedicated itself to helping Americans gain access to fresh and healthy foods. The Atlanta pilot program was inspired by the recent success of Lyft’s fresh food access initiative in Washington.