Here’s some interesting library news! The Baltimore County Public Library is teaming up with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer fresh food to communities that lack large, competitively-priced grocery stores. Although these neighborhoods have many fast food restaurants and corner convenience stores, they don’t have easy access to healthy, cheap food.
Two branch libraries in neighborhoods on either end of the city now offer a convenient option for residents. Residents may come to the library, use the computer to order and pay for groceries, and come back the next day to pick up their food. The project is called the Virtual Supermarket Project. (Read the NPR report here.)
I think this is a really creative solution to a problem that is multi faceted. The different aspects of this problem include low incomes, limited transportation, and an econimcally depressed neighborhood. In addition, the neighborhoods in which this program was started also had some of the highest incidents of lifestyle related mortality: diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. By starting this program, the city of Baltimore is using its existing infrastructure to address its peoples’ daily needs.
I predict the benefits of this program will include:
A greater sense of community as people interact at the library
Better awareness of the awesome resources available at the library
Improved health with varied groceriesAdditional jobs to complete the grocery deliveries
Increased financial support for the library system in the future
This is a nontraditional use of the library, but think it fits in well with public libraries’ overarching mission to be a community center. Public libraries empower people to succeed in their personal goals.