Over the past year, access to fresh food has been a tremendous concern for many Americans especially those living in underserved communities. According to a 2017 article from Post-Gazette, “Homewood is sometimes referred to as “food desert,” though it does have lots of nonprofit and other initiatives to get food to residents.”
In efforts to provide access to fresh food and produce, Giant Eagle and Irene Sparks, Community Relations Officer at Kelly Hamilton Homes, partnered to provide a community grocery pick-up point for the Homewood community. The Giant Eagle program was created out of a need for residents who used the Shakespeare Street Giant Eagle to access fresh food, with the understanding that this long-time access to food would be shut down for approximately 18 months due to a new development in its space. During the redevelopment of this area many residents would not have access to another grocery store within 5 miles of their homes. This now created a hardship of transportation and access to groceries. After, discussions with the Pittsburgh City Council the program of curbside delivery was offered by the Giant Eagle company to allow residents the opportunity to order their food and have it delivered at designated locations in the various surrounding communities, and the Kelly Hamilton Community Center was chosen as a designated drop off location. The CSS team has assisted with the technology necessary to connect to the Giant Eagle portal and assisted with creating the residents accounts to order.
What is a Food Desert?
According to an article from foodispower.org, “Food deserts can be described as geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distance. For instance, according to a report prepared for Congress by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, about 2.3 million people (or 2.2 percent of all US households) live more than one mile away from a supermarket and do not own a car.  In urban areas, access to public transportation may help residents overcome the difficulties posed by distance, but economic forces have driven grocery stores out of many cities in recent years, making them so few and far between that an individual’s food shopping trip may require taking several buses or trains. In suburban and rural areas, public transportation is either very limited or unavailable, with supermarkets often many miles away from people’s homes.”
Giant Eagle Community Pick-Up Point in Homewood:
Every Monday, beginning in May 2021, Giant Eagle delivers fresh food and produce to the residents of Kelly Hamilton Home with no delivery fees. To qualify for the service, you must spend a minimum of $35 and must register and submit your shopping lists each Sunday prior to the delivery. In the beginning, the program did not accept any SNAP benefits and many of our residents were not interested, but after working hard with the Giant Eagle team, Irene was finally able to get Giant Eagle to accept SNAP benefits for the program. Now to purchase groceries, residents can submit their orders online, have them delivered to the pick-up point with NO delivery fee, and use their SNAP benefits!
After speaking with one of our senior citizen residents, they expressed how grateful they are for this pick-up point, “Now that Giant Eagle closed, I was going to have to drive an extra 20 minutes to get to a store, this makes my life so much easier and I do not have to harass my kids to come pick me up and take me to the store anymore,” said Kelly Hamilton Homes resident.
With this initiative, our community has more access to fresh food and produce, as well as providing a safe and convenient option for our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.