This Boston grocery store cuts back on food waste while improving healthy eating habits

The Daily Table is not your average grocery store.

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
Breakfast cereal is shown for sale at a Ralphs grocery store in Del Mar, California (March 6, 2013). Grocery shopping can be especially expensive for low-income individuals, but The Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store, is seeking to change that.

The Daily Table is a not-for-profit grocery store trying to kill two birds with one stone. The store is located in Dorchester, a diverse residential area of Boston that's deemed a food desert for lacking access to many grocers. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the average family of four in the United States wastes approximately US$1,365 to US$2,275 annually, while about one in six citizens go hungry. The Daily Table is trying to combat both waste and food insecurity by empowering local residents to buy food with dignity.

Unfortunately, many hungry or food-insecure people are also overweight, because healthy food tends to be unaffordable and inconvenient. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 14 percent (17.4 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some point during 2014. Food insecure households include those with “low food security” and “very low food security,” meaning normal eating patterns of one or more household members are disrupted, and food intake was reduced at times during the year because of insufficient resources for food. The grocery store aims to make healthy food affordable for the food insecure by using “the excess, available food from growers, manufacturers, and supermarkets."

The Daily Table founder and former president of Trader Joe’s, Doug Rauch, told the Boston Globe that the new grocery store is trying to reach the “working poor who are out buying food, but who can’t afford the food they should be eating.” Rauch explains that the Daily Table will help alleviate this issue by “provid[ing] healthy meals that are no more expensive than what people are already buying [at fast food chains].” Conveniently, Daily Table customers can use their SNAP benefits on any product.

The Daily Table is able to have sales on healthy food, such as US$0.99 for a tub of blackberries. Rauch and his team accomplish this by selling foods that are nearby or past their “display code,” including the “sell by,” “use by,” and “best by” dates. The Daily Table cites a 2014 report from the NRDC and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic that points out that these dates are poorly understood by consumers and were created to help retailers rotate items for freshness, with no indication of food safety.

The Daily Table is also trying to create a community center around good food through many membership benefits and employment opportunities—almost 80 percent of their new hires live within a two-mile radius of the store.

This article first appeared at Food Tank.

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