The idea that food deserts are to blame for obesity is superficially plausible. There are many zip codes where it's tough to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but easy to buy McNuggets. While the evidence about the impact of food deserts and proximity to fast food on obesity and healthy diet is actually mixed, it's understandable that public health–types might busy themselves with the problem of getting veggies into people's hands.
And the problem can seem intractable: How can people without access to reliable transportation get a reliable flow of leafy greens? How about….a bus?
An independent grocer in Baltimore recently realized that they could drum up business and publicity by sending out a bus to pick up shoppers. So yesterday, they announced the Santoni's shuttle, explaining that they'd rather have people spend money on groceries than cabs.
"People are looking for dependable and inexpensive transportation," Santoni said. "A hack or sedan or taxi service can be 15 or 20 dollars round trip and that money would come out the food budget. With our service, seniors and the underserved can expand their food budget and eat healthier."
Obviously, this doesn't solve every problem, and the announcement about the shuttle bus mentions that the local public health department is a "partner" in the endeavor, so there may be government backing, but this is still a great example of how seemingly tough public policy problems may actually just be profit opportunities.