eCommerce platform increases healthy food access and grows small businesses in low-income communities
Initial roll-out in New York City proves program increases sales for the independent grocer while providing residents with greater choice and convenience. Platform can accelerate online SNAP purchases and provide other healthy food incentives.
Mercato, an eCommerce platform for independent grocers, has announced its new initiative to improve access to healthy foods and foster economic stability in low-income communities. Thriving Communities works with local governments, private funders and non-profits to bring more grocers onto the eGrocery platform so they can digitize their inventory, offer delivery and enable enrollment and utilization of SNAP online.
It creates what founder and CEO Bobby Brannigan calls “The Mercato Effect” – whereby grocers going online provides residents access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods and the ability to redeem public/private food benefits which in turn creates more jobs, increases grocers’ sales and keeps dollars circulating within the community. “As the son of an independent grocer in Brooklyn, I know first-hand how critical these independent, local grocers are to the economic and social well-being of their communities,” said Brannigan. “They are the lifeline for so many residents to get fresh, healthy, culturally relevant foods without having to travel far or wait weeks to go to the market. By giving local grocers the tools and technologies to operate online, they can increase their own revenue and fuel healthier ecosystems throughout the country.”
New York City was the first city to partner with Mercato, leveraging Thriving Communities to test a technological pilot that offered subsidized groceries to a cohort of New Yorkers. “The pandemic challenged food security in unprecedented ways,” said Kate MacKenzie, executive director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. “Mercato’s innovative work piloting online grocery benefits making healthy, affordable groceries accessible to all New Yorkers, no matter where they live. New York City is proud to innovate with technology and public benefits, and we are thrilled that Mercato recognizes this too.”
“Getting onto the Mercato platform was game-changing for our store and our shoppers,” said Gustavo Rodriguez of Key Food Stadium, located in the Bronx. “Our sales are increasing literally every day, especially fresh produce, and the technology and service Mercato provides enables us to fulfill orders seamlessly and with the same personal attention and care that our shoppers need and deserve. It feels incredible to be feeding and helping low-income residents in our community.”
Mercato is looking to expand Thriving Communities by finding and collaborating with partners in other cities including Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.