INDIANAPOLIS, Ind- The city of Indianapolis is teaming up with the ride-sharing service Lyft to combat food deserts on the Far East Side.
The ride-sharing service has been providing rides to and from local grocery stores for just $1 each way. The average ride is about $13. It’s something Lyft has done in other cities across the country who also struggle with food deserts.
Since it began in Indy 6 months ago, the "Lyft Indy Grocery Access Program" has given out more than 1,000 rides to roughly 130 people.
"Today I'm probably just going to grab some lettuce and tomatoes for dinner,” said Donjarica Walton as she walked through the aisles of Kroger.
Walton and her four children live on the Far East Side where grocery stores are hard to come by. She says the closest grocery store is a 10-minute drive, and no bus route takes her there.
"Living on this side of town is pretty scary when you don’t have a grocery store you can get easy access to,” Walton said. "It's not walking distance or anything.”
Walton is one of about 200,000 Indy residents said to be living in a food desert, where affordable and healthy food can be hard to find.
“Living in a food desert for many people creates an extremely tough barrier just to do simple things like getting groceries or getting important items for your family,” said Lyft General Manager Cebronica Luft.
So when Lyft and the City of Indianapolis rolled out a new grocery access program this summer, Walton signed up. She’s able to order a Lyft anytime to the grocery store and pay just $1 each way. Drivers still get their usual cut and are unaware she's in the program.
“That's why I like it," Walton said. "I don't have to feel ashamed that I don't have enough money to pay for a ride to the grocery store.”
Walton says she’s able to spend more money on groceries thanks to the savings on getting there. She’s hoping this program can continue, until the food desert she lives in, is no more.
“Hopefully... they see this is an issue and it needs to be handled,” Walton said. "We really are thankful for this program.”
The pilot program was set to end at the end of December, but the city says they’ll be expanding it at least through January. It’s budgeted for about 500 people, and so far roughly 130 people are signed up. The City plans to expand the program to the West Side as well.
You can sign up for the program at THIS LINK. You must live within the boundaries of North – 46th Street. South – 30th Street. East – German Church Road. West – Franklin Road to qualify.