Peapod to Host 'Food Desert' Community Forum

Online grocer expands service to communities lacking mainstream stores and offers seasonal fruit at a discount in affected areas

Jun 02, 2010, 16:01 ET from Peapod

SKOKIE, Ill., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Peapod, the country's leading Internet grocer, will host its first community forum as part of an ongoing campaign to improve healthy food choices in food deserts, communities where healthy food is hard to come by due to a lack of mainstream grocery stores.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

from 6 to 8 p.m.

at Tarkington Elementary School

3330 W. 71st Street

Chicago Lawn

The forum, in partnership with sustainable communities group Neighbor Capital (, is an extension of the Healthy Families Project that Peapod and Neighbor Capital launched earlier this year. The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the importance of healthy eating and access to good food. A study by Mari Gallagher Research Group found that more than 600,000 residents live in Chicago's food deserts and are more likely to die prematurely from diet-related diseases such as diabetes.

Forum guests will learn how they can participate in a community drop-off program, how to place orders online, and about employment opportunities. They also will be treated to a healthy meal and free samples of Peapod's new "Best Fruit of the Season," a 10-piece bundle of mixed fruit to be sold at the deeply discounted price of $2.99 at select pickup sites (libraries, schools, community centers) in food deserts.

Earlier this year, Peapod hired food desert researcher Mari Gallagher ( to conduct a block-by-block analysis to identify areas where Peapod may positively impact the greatest number of people. New findings from Gallagher, including maps of the hardest hit neighborhoods, will be released at the forum.

"The barriers are pervasive in food desert communities, but we're moving forward with the belief that with education and strategic partnerships, we can reverse these negative trends for the long term," said Peapod Senior Vice President and General Manager Scott DeGraeve. "For us, opening up access to healthy food choices in food desert communities is more than a business imperative; it's the right thing to do."

"A lot of people in food deserts do not have computers in their homes," DeGraeve said, adding Peapod, through its alliance with Neighbor Capital, is looking to partner with community groups to help facilitate ordering online.

Peapod recently expanded service into the 60629 and 60632 area codes, which include the Chicago Lawn, Brighton Park and Archer Heights communities. The forum will host new Peapod customers, along with vendors such as organic produce distributor Goodness Greeness and Sweet Beginnings, a Chicago firm that harvests honey to make natural skin care products. Peapod recently added Sweet Beginnings products to its online offerings.

Neighbor Capital is a social business enterprise focused on developing scalable solutions that are key to sustainable, thriving local communities.

For information about Peapod visit