Mercato, an e-commerce and delivery platform that serves independent grocers, announced Monday the launch of an initiative aiming to improve access to healthy food options and economic stability in low-income areas.
The program, known as Thriving Communities, works with local governments, private donors and non-profit organizations to help grocers establish an online presence, offer delivery service and accept SNAP benefits online.
Mercato said it established the Thriving Communities program with the goal of creating jobs, helping grocers increase sales and keeping money circulating within individual communities by helping people use public and private benefits to obtain healthy, culturally appropriate foods.
New York City was the first city to partner with Mercato as part of the initiative, leveraging Thriving Communities through a pilot that offered subsidized groceries to a cohort of New Yorkers, according to the announcement. The e-commerce technology company plans to extend the initiative to other cities, including Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
“By giving local grocers the tools and technologies to operate online, they can increase their own revenue and fuel healthier ecosystems throughout the country,” Mercato CEO and founder Bobby Brannigan said in a statement.
Mercato’s effort to help people access healthy foods comes as grocers and government officials are stepping up health-focused initiatives to support customers and communities.
In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began seeking applications for a $5 million grant aimed at boosting the number and diversity of retailers accepting online payments from shoppers using EBT cards.
In mid-August, Stop & Shop opened an on-site community wellness center at a store in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood to help combat the area’s high rates of chronic health conditions and food insecurity.