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A resident of Nellie Reynolds Gardens, a PHA development, speaks with staffers from Lyft at the kickoff for the Grocery Access Program in Philadelphia. Photo Courtesy of PHA. 
A resident of Nellie Reynolds Gardens, a PHA development, speaks with staffers from Lyft at the kickoff for the Grocery Access Program in Philadelphia. Photo Courtesy of PHA. 

Lyft launching new program to remove transportation barriers toward healthy food

A partnership between Lyft, PHA and Uplift Solutions, is aiming to assist North Philly residents living in food deserts reach healthier food options.

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Lyft recently announced that it is launching a new program in the City of Philadelphia aimed at helping North Philadelphia residents living in food deserts gain access to fresh, healthy grocery options. 

The Grocery Access Program will provide local families living in areas surrounding Philadelphia Housing Authority sites throughout North Philadelphia with a $2.50 flat-rate fare to and from nearby grocery stores. It will cover eight rides per month, or one round trip per week to and from the ShopRite at 2800 Fox Street and Fresh Grocer at 1501 North Broad Street.

The program is part of Lyft City Works, a commitment from Lyft to invest $50 million or 1% of profits—whichever is larger—to support locally-driven transportation and other initiatives to improve people’s lives in every city in which they operate. 

“It’s our civic responsibility to address key problems our communities are facing through better access to transportation, with the goal of improving life in all areas of Philadelphia, and we’re thrilled to help bring this initiative to Philly,” Andrew Woolf, Lyft Regional Director of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, said in a statement. 

This initiative is in partnership with PHA, a municipal authority that provides public housing services in the city; and Uplift Solutions, an organization that works to support food businesses, local governments, and nonprofits in creating sustainable access to fresh and healthy food, nutrition education, and health care in underserved communities.

According to Lyft’s Economic Impact Report, 68% of rides in Philadelphia start or end in low income communities. This partnership will help thousands of families have easier access to travel to healthier food retailers.

“This initiative will connect families to healthy food options that they would otherwise not be able to access,” Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, said in a statement.

According to Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure in 2017, equating to 40 million Americans, and 12 million children. 

"The Lyft Grocery Access Program directly aligns with our mission to provide sustainable access to fresh and healthy food, nutrition education, and healthcare to underserved communities in Philadelphia,” Atif Bostic, Executive Director of Uplift Solutions, said in a statement. 

Philadelphia is the 10th market in the United States to pilot this program, with Washington D.C. becoming the first in 2018. 

"By offering discounted flat-rate rides to full-service grocery stores, the program has helped to reduce the time, transportation, and financial barriers to healthy food access,” Bostic added.

The Grocery Access Program will run for six months, from Sept. 1 until Feb. 29, 2020, with plans of expanding the program currently underway, with a goal of reaching more residents in the future.

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