Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket Program, a nationally award-winning program that increases food access in neighborhoods designated as food deserts by providing online ordering and delivery options, has recently expanded.
The Virtual Supermarket Program — the flagship component of Baltimarket, the Baltimore City Health Department’s suite of community-based food access and food justice programs — enables residents to place grocery orders online, and offers free delivery to designated community sites. Residents can pay for groceries using cash, credit, debit or EBT/SNAP. Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket is the first community-based program in the country to accept EBT/SNAP for online grocery ordering and delivery.
ShopRite of Howard Park, MD, is the second ShopRite store to partner with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer the Virtual Supermarket Program. This past summer, the Virtual Supermarket Program was re-launched in partnership with ShopRite of Glen Burnie, MD, which is operated by Collins Family Markets.
“My family and I are committed to serving the community by providing fresh food at great prices, and we are excited to extend this service to our Baltimore neighbors through the Virtual Supermarket Program,” Marshall Klein, vice president of retail operations for Klein’s Family Markets, which owns and operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland, said in a press release. “Customers placing online orders will receive all of ShopRite’s weekly sales and traditional low prices, and each order will be hand selected by our team of personal shoppers. We are proud to join the Baltimarket program in its mission to provide fresh, healthy food to the City of Baltimore.”
“This expansion is about making life better for too many Baltimore City families who lack easy access to groceries, more than 30,000 of which are our children,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “That is absolutely unacceptable to me. In partnership with our community and business partners, we are taking action to help residents in some of our most challenged neighborhoods access healthy foods to feed their families.”
Approximately 20 percent of Baltimore City residents live in food deserts, which are defined as areas where the distance to a supermarket exceeds a fourth of a mile, where the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and over 40 percent of households lack access to a vehicle.
“Access to healthy foods is vital to the prevention and control of chronic disease, so expanding the Virtual Supermarket Program to even more Baltimore families is excellent news as we strive to provide healthier and more cost-effective food options across the city,” said Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, interim health commissioner for Baltimore City.
“This virtual supermarket will be a tremendous resource to the residents of Perkins Homes and the surrounding community,” said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. “The ability for our seniors, families and children to have access to healthy and nutritious foods is a necessity that will greatly improve their quality of life.”
“Since Perkins Housing development is in the middle of a food desert, it is vital that our residents have access to fresh meats and produce,” said Travis Street, site manager and coordinator for POWER House, Living Classrooms Foundation. “The Virtual Supermarket Program, in partnership with the ShopRite of Howard Park, is helping our community to bridge the gap for eating better and living longer.”
The Virtual Supermarket is made possible through the support of United Way of Central Maryland and the Kaiser Foundation. The Baltimarket.org website is made possible through the support of the Delmarva Foundation.