NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenant leaders are calling on the public housing authority to create shared food delivery hubs for residents to reduce large delivery fees.
According to Stringer, the program would expand access to healthy and affordable grocery options for NYCHA residents; increase convenience for seniors, those with limited mobility, and those who work long hours; create the opportunity to use SNAP benefits from home; and reduce delivery trucks idling and traffic congestion near NYCHA developments.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have left families in NYCHA especially vulnerable to malnutrition and hunger," Stringer said, adding that food delivery could be a lifeline for NYCHA residents facing food insecurity — "but the steep minimums and delivery charges are out of reach for so many families trying to ends meet."
He said the proposal for a shared delivery center program would mean NYCHA residents could combine their purchasing power to avoid fees, and would "create access to nutritious groceries not available in so many of the city's food deserts."
Through the program, residents would accept food deliveries from online retailers at a central location within NYCHA developments, without steep minimums and delivery fees. Stringer recommended NYCHA identify a development with appropriate community space that already has cold storage or the capacity to accommodate a large fridge and freezer, which would serve as the "Shared Grocery Delivery Center."
He said the housing authority could then partner with retailers that woul waive delivery fees and minimum order requirements for residents of the development in exchange for the single grocery drop-off location and an expanded customer base. Online retailers that accept SNAP should be prioritized when selecting a partner, he said.
The agency could then allocate staff or volunteer resources to accept groceries in the community space on behalf of residents and ensure their security until they are picked up.
Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg said food delivery hubs would be "a win-win, making it easier and cheaper for companies to deliver food and making it more convenient for community members — most of whom are working — to pick it up at a time that works best for them."
"The end goal is to make healthier food cheaper and more convenient for struggling New Yorkers," he said.
Patricia Burns, Lehman Houses Tenant Association President said: "For too long we've seen our residents struggle with getting affordable, nutritious groceries for their families, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Comptroller Stringer's plan to create shared delivery centers is an innovative and cost-effective solution that we urge NYCHA to start implementing today."
NYCHA's Lehman Houses Tenant Association President Patricia Burns said the plan was an innovative and cost-effective way to help address issues of food insecurity.
"For too long we've seen our residents struggle with getting affordable, nutritious groceries for their families, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit."