Electric Refrigerated Vans: Offering Access to Healthy Foods in Urban Neighborhoods

Overhead view of containers filled with green vegetables, including lettuce, green beans, spinach and zucchini

Photo: foodiesfeed / Freepik

Lack of access to fresh foods, in areas called food deserts, is not a new problem, but it’s also not getting much better.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) identified more than 18 million people living in food deserts. Of those, only 1.4 million got access to a new supermarket by 2014.

Since adding new supermarkets isn’t happening very quickly, it’s time to look for other food desert solutions.

Any solutions also need to consider the challenges of urban areas. These areas struggle both with stores and with difficulties related to food delivery.

Addressing the problem requires multiple approaches, but one way to start is by using refrigerated vans to improve access to fresh food.

Urban Food Deserts

In food deserts, residents don’t have access to nutritious, affordable food choices. Low income urban areas often fall into this category.

Supermarkets are scarce in these neighborhoods. Plus, many people don’t have a car or other transportation necessary to get to a grocery store farther away.

Convenience and dollar stores are much more common. Unfortunately, they don’t usually provide fresh fruits or vegetables, and healthier food choices are also often more expensive.

Even if new grocery stores opened, they would face extra challenges with getting supplies. City streets are narrower and more congested than suburban or rural areas, making them harder for delivery vehicles to navigate.

Electric Refrigerated Vans Can Help

Improving food delivery is a key component to providing access to healthy foods.

One of the difficulties is that the most nutritious foods – fresh produce and protein – need to stay cool. To keep them that way, they need to be delivered in a refrigerated vehicle. Size issues and road restrictions, though, mean that a refrigerated semi-truck often isn’t an option.

Another consideration with any refrigerated delivery service is fuel. Making multiple trips with a small load isn’t cost-effective, especially in larger vehicles. Additionally, some areas require low CO2 emissions.

Electric refrigerated vans solve these problems.

The electric battery does more than help the environment and meet regulations. It can also be used to power the refrigeration unit, making this option efficient on many fronts.

From a size perspective, refrigerated vans are maneuverable and compact. This gives them access to narrow streets, restricted traffic areas, and delivery spots that are hard to reach.

Finally, refrigerated vans keep you in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, the FSMA requires drivers to monitor and report on the temperature of the vehicle’s refrigerated compartments.

Cool Solutions for Food Deserts

People in urban food deserts face many challenges when trying to eat well. Their access to the best foods is limited, and low income may require them to make less healthy choices.

Electric refrigerated vans can provide part of the solution by supplying stores with fresh foods, even in hard to reach places. Using them won’t solve all the food desert problems, but they’re a great first step.

Interested in finding an electric refrigerated van for your business? Contact us today so we can help you get started.