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Free shuttles can close the grocery gap

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Inner-city supermarkets can improve their profit margins and the health of the communities they serve by offering shoppers free transportation, according to a report released today by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Advanced Studies in Nutrition and Social Marketing. A free shuttle program also reduces shopping-cart thefts.

Its a way for supermarkets to do well by doing good, said Diana Cassady, assistant professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine and senior author of the report, funded by the California Nutrition Network.

Cassady and her colleagues conducted a market analysis of low-income neighborhoods in five California cities -- Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland and San Diego (a list of zip codes follows) -- and concluded that a supermarket-sponsored shuttle service would be financially viable in any of the areas. Depending on the area, estimated annual shuttle-driven revenues per zip code ranged from $545,700 to $1.5 million. The estimates assume, conservatively, that 20 percent of households without cars in each study area would use a shuttle once a week to buy $25 in groceries.

We hope these findings will encourage more inner-city supermarkets to provide shuttles, Cassady said. Residents of lower-income and minority neighborhoods in many urban areas face a double bind that limits their access to fresh, healthy food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are full-service supermarkets scarce in many inner-city areas, but many residents of these areas lack cars to get to supermarkets in other parts of town.

Among people earning less than $15,000 a year, only one in four eats the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, according to data from the California Department of Health Services. Nearly half the African-Americans in California eat two or fewer servings per day. A diet poor in fruits and vegetables is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer and other illn
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Contact: Claudia Morain
cmmorain@ucdavis.edu
916-734-9023
University of California, Davis - Health System
8-Apr-2003


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