BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A unique program is using a high-tech method to make sure Baltimore City families have healthy food at home. It’s a virtual supermarket that’s filling a major void.

Tim Williams has more on how a virtual supermarket is helping neighbors in Cherry Hill.

Juanita Ewell lives in a neighborhood city officials call a “food desert.” There’s no supermarket within walking distance for residents to find healthy, inexpensive food.

“At this point, the only food that is available is fast foods or these mom and pop grocery stores that sell food at a premium,” said Ewell.

That is until now. The Enoch Pratt Free Library has become a lifeline.

Inside the Cherry Hill library branch, Ewell is grocery shopping.

It’s called the Virtual Supermarket Project. It’s a partnership between the Baltimore City Health Department and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Residents can come in and order groceries online, pay for them, then pick them up at the same location the very next day.

“You are thinking, groceries at your library. I thought it was books and DVDs and things like that,” said Dr. Carla Hayden, CEO, Enoch Pratt Library System.

This program is a first in the nation and Cherry Hill joins three other locations where the virtual markets are set up. All the areas have high mortality rates linked to diet.

“Studies have shown that if you increase the access to food, especially foods like fruits and vegetables, you’ll lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and all these other obesity related co-morbidities,” said Laura Fox, Baltimore City Health Department.

But finally there is choice.

Santoni’s Supermarket stepped up to the plate when other grocery chains would not to make sure good food was available to all neighborhoods.

“Right now we have a fleet of three vehicles, drivers and personal shoppers who do nothing except receive phone-in orders from seniors who are on fixed income,” said owner, Rob Santoni. “Knowing that Santoni’s has the resources and the online shopping service to address the food desert problem, we view it as social responsibility.”

Seniors and others can order online at the library and live healthier.

“Today I ordered fruit, I got apples, peaches, pork chops and chicken,” said one customer.

This is the city’s fourth virtual market. The project is funded by a $60,000 grant and plans to expand to other libraries in zones without grocery stores.

Tim Williams

Comments (9)
  1. anon says:

    Awesome! This is finally some good news for Cherry Hill!

  2. derrickman says:

    What? Like if they had a supermarket in Cherry Hill, everything would be stolen in a few minutes. Look at yourselves in C.H. people & especially the arrogant young gangsta wannabe’s.

    1. Nathan Jefferson says:

      So So sad.

  3. Jeanne Clarke says:

    I think this is wonderful, especially for families with seniors and young children…and yes,I agree, if a decent supermarket were to open in that area, the cost of security would be so high that food prices would have to be high to compensate for that. So this is a great alternative! I would think people can put in their independence card info or debit card info to pay online, too.

  4. peterthe geator says:

    Nobody in their right mind would open a business in Porch monkey land. The thugs, dopers & gangsta wannabes along with the real Coons would take them out in a matter of day

    1. Nathan Jefferson says:

      I feel sorry for you. I hope that you are childless.

  5. Nathan Jefferson says:

    All the racist comments on here are just sad. I hope none of you people have kids.

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