Lyft offers grocery ride discount to people living in 'food deserts'

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What would be nice, if we stopped pretending that free market capitalism has anything to do with meeting the needs of human beings. Food deserts is just peak capitalism making money blindly where it can, its not capitalism’s “fault” if people are miserable and malnourished if they don’t have the money to drive. Let them work another job, and buy their way to better food! Maybe they can go out and become lyft drivers!



Wait, does this mean Lyft drivers are not independent contractors, but employees? Because I’m an independent contractor, and my company can’t hand out discounts on my commissions. How are the drivers being paid?


Lyft is using all kinds of investment money to lower fairs while still (sort of) paying their drivers. Say I sell someone a service for $2 and pay you, as my subcontractor $5 to provide that service, everyone is happy, right? (Except for the people who gave me the $3 to build my business, but they are hoping that we can charge $7 after we run the other companies out of business, and that I can talk you down to $4 when you can’t get a job doing the service anywhere else.)


This hits home for me, in my early 20’s in college i was struggling to make ends meet and every grocery store was relatively far. I had to walk quite a distance to even get to the bus stop, so once the groceries were bought i still had to haul everything my foot to my apartment. I was lucky to get a used bike at one point but the grocery run was still quite an effort. Glad i dont have to worry about this anymore but many do.


If a house lacks wiring or plumbing, its considered uninhabitable and cant be rented out usually. Yet the automobile has so infected the minds of urban planners, it doesn’t seem to register as a problem when a house is built without access to groceries.

Food is every bit as important as electricity or running water. This needs to be baked into our building codes.


Shouldn’t the larger food stores have thought of that themselves and organized cheap travel to pick up customers? Good PR and basically a captive customer base who can’t go anywhere else.

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A shuttle-bus service of the type used by hotels could be made cost-effective. It’d be worth it to pay a buck or two for a ride, not just because the food options are better but also generally cheaper than at convenience stores and bodegas. The total cost of the trip would be less.

edit to add:

Seems this idea is already out there:


To be fair, with this particular kind of stunt they can probably write off the difference they paid in VC money as marketing :slight_smile:
Certainly got BB talking about it, and it makes me feel a bit better. I generally avoid ride sharing when I can help it, but I go with Lyft when I need to because they’re usually in the news moreso for this sort of thing than Uber-style “Executive resigns for drunkenly calling Uber driver racial slurs” and “Uber causes first self-driving car fatality”

…I’m not sure if Lyft needs a marketing department at all considering who they’re up against, actually :man_shrugging:


More dense cities and also in other countries amenities tend to be closer thankfully, but the US definitely went full bore on the concept of driving everywhere to fulfill your needs. Couple that with bad mass transit and its just the worst urban planning when it comes to people without regular access to vehicles. And for those that do have cars, i hope you like traffic (god i hate driving).


In the Los Angeles area, a local grocery store offered a free shuttle service to their customers, but only for the return trip for the customers and their purchases. This makes a lot of sense when perishable goods were a part of their purchases. Their customer base, of which many were impoverished minorities, became fiercely loyal customers.

Unfortunately this grocer was closed by the DEA due to some shady side business they were engaged in.


It’d be more fair if the stores offered their own shuttles. As an lyft driver when I see the pickup is at a grocery store I cancel . We get paid mostly for distance and about a quarter of that for time. So when I go to a grocery store and have to wait and help bags be put in I am losing a lot of money. Margins are thin driving especially with Lyft and Uber recent cuts to rates. And I’ve never received a tip for driving the 5 blocks to their house. For sure a lower income person will not make it the difference with a tip. So instead if taking a $2.59 ride for 25 minutes I’ll stick to the better routes. Not fair for the passengers and it’s not fair to the drivers for cutting their rates. The smart drivers don’t take these and it’s actively discussed in chat boards like uberpeople . Net

Weird, but you can be in the middle of a large city and be in a food desert. Basically, if the crime rate is high enough, supermarkets move out to the burbs and just leave the convenience stores to get robbed. It could also involve tax rates. Either way, it’s not too hard to be surrounded by every type of retail and still have to drive out of town to stock up for the family.

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Also, neighborhoods that are dominated by commercial space (offices, labs, etc.) might have plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants, etc., but lack basic neighborhood things like markets and drug stores. Though at least those areas are usually relatively well served by transit options.

The article did not mention the distances involved. Wikipedia says, “…one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas, and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas.”

I can see 10 miles being a big deal. One mile? Not so much, excepting the elderly or infirm. My daily high school walk to/from school, with a backpack of books, was longer than that.

One mile is conservative at best. Before i got a car my walk to the grocery store was 2.5 miles each way, not a wholly unpleasant walk but it made it more of a chore to get groceries. Particularly because the bus didn’t have a direct route to and from my place, sometimes i would opt for walking there and then ordering a rideshare to drop me back off at home. Combine that with hot/humid Texas weather and my desire to make that walk for groceries made it to where i found excuses to do fast food rather than go grocery shopping. I’m sure many families have to jump through these hoops and probably more (especially if they have kids, are elderly, disabled, you mention)


I’ve lived in places without a supermarket twice. The first time was in a town with a small population, and the nearest large town was about 7 miles away. After ten years, the population increased to the point that a market was built in town. Public transportation was terrible, and traffic on major roads made walking the 2 miles into town a dangerous thing to do.

The second time was during my university days. There was no market in the city, and public transportation outside of campus wasn’t reliable. So, my roommates and I used cabs to travel 4 miles each way for food. The cabbies were not happy with short distance fares, either. The coordination when we had a lot of frozen food was terrible, because it took a while to get a ride back.

Just thinking about those years makes me grateful to have multiple stores nearby, as well as a few delivery services.


I find commercial space to be oddly oversaturated with mattress stores, nail parlors, and vape shops, but as you say, fewer grocery stores or drugstores than one might reasonably expect.

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Why do all of Seamus’s posts read like movie trailers? You know you’re all thinking that.


“German-owned discount grocery chain Aldi, with its no-frills format, now operates a store a few blocks from the new Englewood development”

A change long over due for one of Chicago’s roughest areas and still a long way to go…