According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 30 million people live in food deserts – low income areas with limited access to supermarkets (defined as the closest store being more than a mile away). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) broadly defines food deserts as areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up a full and healthy diet.

This limits to what smaller convenience stores carry – hardly a making of a nutritious meal. And, research from Johns Hopkins University found that Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets and more small stores that are less likely to carry fruits and vegetables (in any form), along with other nutrient-rich foods. Limited access to these foods may lead to chronic diseases associated with poor nutrition including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets and more small stores that are less likely to carry fruits and vegetables (in any form), along with other nutrient-rich foods.Click To Tweet

However, there are three brands that are leading the charge to help combat this problem.

Family Dollar

Next time you visit your local Family Dollar you are likely going to find a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables beyond the vast aisles of dog food, toiletries and paper towels. Just last week the retail chain, announced that it would be supplying food to low-income residents in food deserts.

Lyft

The ride-sharing app announced a new initiative that will help low-income households who lack access to reliable transportation who live in food deserts in Washington D.C. to get access to grocery stores with the Grocery Access Program, in partnership with the D.C nonprofit, Martha’s Table. Qualified families can use up to 50 rides and pay just $2.50 both ways to and from the nearest full-service supermarket in their neighborhood.

Thrive Market

An online retailer that only sells organic foods at up to 50% off retail prices. A membership fee helps to offset the costs to the consumer. For every customer who pays their membership fee, another membership is given away to someone in need. The company partners with nonprofits like Feeding America and United Way to identify low-income families with unstable food access. Thrive Market also allows people to apply for free memberships via their website, prioritizing low earners, teachers, veterans, and students who might not be identified by other NGOs.

For millions of Americans, a lack of access to affordable and nutritious meals is a year-round problem. Although there are brands, nonprofits, and local communities that are galvanizing their customers and supporters to take action on such an important cause through the holidays, it’s important to do our best to support these amazing initiatives year-round.

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