Hunger is one of the most pressing social issues facing the United States. Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic in 2019, 10.5% of all households in America experienced food insecurity at some point. In just the small 50,000 person community of Galveston, Texas, 15% of current residents are considered to be food insecure. Sitting in this same community in Galveston is a warehouse full of reasonably priced fresh produce and pre-packaged groceries. That warehouse is home to Little Red Box Grocery (LRBG), a social venture that provides meal kits and fresh produce to local communities that otherwise do not have access to healthy food.
At LRBG, a mixture of healthy foods and pantry essentials are boxed, ready to go for patrons, at the same or lower rate than a regular grocery store.
“We are trying to address this gap [that] allows more than 40 million people in this country to say they live more than a mile from the closest grocery store,” said Sam Newman (MSB’08), founder of LRBG. “There is demand for good food everywhere. It’s just the difference that some people have access and some people do not.”
Although the LRBG currently only operates in Galveston, Newman has plans to expand to additional locations over time. The founder views the flagship location as just the beginning of a micro, community guided model that could help low income families across the country. By not only offering an assortment of fresh foods and pantry essentials at a fairly affordable price, the LRBG can help to build the community through committed engagement and programming, personal relationships with community leaders, investing in local food sources, and providing employment opportunities for residents.
Newman became passionate about addressing the prevalence of food deserts in America through a combination of his experience in the grocery business and the basic necessity food plays in everyone’s life. After working at a major grocery store in Texas for several years, Newman identified how grocers could better serve low income communities. Afterwards, he led a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring children had healthy fruit and vegetable options at school.
Ultimately, Newman hopes that the LRBG in Galveston serves to prove that equity, a value he holds close to his heart, can start at the dinner table.
“When you lack access to good food, you lack access to all sorts of things,” said Newman. “Food is the catalyst for increasing access to things that folks otherwise lack access to having. So, we are starting with food, and it grows from there.”
As one of the 12 companies in the inaugural Georgetown Startup Accelerator, the LRBG team is working hard to further grow their business and expand their model to communities across the country. Learn more about LRBG.