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As part of its Community Impact and Innovation grant program, retail tech company Shipt has awarded UAB’s Live HealthSmart Alabama (LHSA) initiative a $20,000 microgrant to help expand its Live HealthSmart Mobile Market to 10 additional underserved communities, giving them access to fresh, affordable staple foods and produce.

Launched in 2019, LHSA works to promote health equity, decrease chronic disease, and make good health simple for all Alabamians.

“At Shipt, we’re committed to leveraging our partnerships, technology, and scale to address the inherent disconnect between food access, food waste, and hunger and increasing access to healthy food options for those who are food insecure,” said Khadijah Abdullah, Shipt’s vice president of economic development and social impact.

""“This commitment further extends to leveling the economic playing field for Black and underrepresented groups in our communities. Through Shipt’s Community Impact and Innovations grant program, we are proud to support the growth of Live HealthSmart Alabama’s Mobile Market to expand access to fresh produce and staple foods at an affordable price, particularly for Birmingham residents with limited access to a grocery store. By increasing access to healthy foods, Live HealthSmart can make a positive health impact for community members in Birmingham. Live HealthSmart’s Mobile Market closely aligns with Shipt’s food insecurity commitments.”

LHSA launched its Mobile Market—a trailer designed to look just like a grocery store, filled with bins and racks of fresh fruits, produce, and healthy staples like rice, chicken broth, dairy, eggs, and healthy cuts of meat—three years ago. Community members are able to shop in the market, which now serves approximately 25 communities considered food deserts throughout Birmingham.

“In these neighborhoods it’s very important to the senior population who might not have the mobility or ability to leave the neighborhood to go buy groceries,” said Teresa Shufflebarger, chief administrative officer for LHSA. “Not that we don’t help the younger population, but we’ve found it to be a real benefit for the senior population. Forty percent of sales are produce, so these communities are getting fresh fruits and vegetables.”

According to Shufflebarger, the Shipt microgrant enabled the Mobile Market to reach a bigger audience.

“It allows us to address food insecurity in more communities,” Shufflebarger said, “getting the message out more widely that we’re there so others can raise the level of awareness. We are really focused on increasing food access and the nutritional value of the food that’s available in these communities. The Shipt grant helps us do that.”

Though it has a national presence, Shipt is headquartered in Birmingham and is proud to support communities in its own backyard.

“As a tech company headquartered in the South, we know that our Birmingham roots are a key part of Shipt’s growth and success,” Abdullah said. “We’re excited to be able to give back to our hometown community through different initiatives and through community partnerships such as UAB’s Live HealthSmart Alabama program.”

Abdullah said nonprofits Shipt has been able to support, such as LHSA, are leading the effort to address pressing issues like food insecurity with community-driven solutions. She hopes grants like these allow them to build capacity and further innovate on these issues.

“We’re proud to support a fellow leader in innovation, local talent recruiter, and economic development partner,” Abdullah said.

Shufflebarger said that LHSA is grateful for its partnership with Shipt—and that it’s just the beginning of a relationship with the company. “Addressing food insecurity is a real opportunity for us in future partnerships,” she said.

Abdullah hopes expanding the reach of the Mobile Market will allow more people across the city to choose nutritious food because they now have access to it.

“We know convenient access to affordable and fresh produce is not as easy as it should be for many people,” Abdullah said. “By expanding the reach of the Mobile Market to serve more people and new neighborhoods, we hope this grant will mean that more residents in Birmingham will be able to make healthy choices, and ultimately help decrease the incidence of chronic diet-related disease.”

To learn more about Live HealthSmart Alabama, visit uab.edu/livehealthsmartal.



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