Twelve-year-old Lena is growing up poor and malnourished on Chicago’s West Side. She buys Blue Juice and Hot Chips from the corner store on her way to school. She and her classmates can afford the flavoured sugar water and salty starch, but this cheap “food” that fills up her stomach provides no nutritional value.
Lena is one of over 20 million Americans living in food deserts, places without access to a full-service grocery store within two miles. Yet while Lena buys her Hot Chips, an affluent family nearby uses an online retail platform to order their weekly delivery of fresh, nutritious food – at prices that Lena and her family can’t afford. Despite a surge of technology innovations in food retail, Lena and her family represent a growing number of underserved customers around the world.