Pepe & Elena Piperno pose with the Eat Well team in front of the Virtua mobile grocery store, whose operation is partially funded by the Domenica Foundation.
“The Virtua bus has been a blessing, since it is difficult for disabled people like me to do fresh shopping. This is a wonderful concept. The selections have been fantastic. The prices here are wonderful.”
The Virtua Eat Well mobile grocery store is earning kudos like this one from Malissa Plaza (pictured seated at right), a regular shopper who was also the one-thousandth customer.
We visited the bus-turned-grocery store on its six-month anniversary in the field to see how it serves as an oasis in “food deserts” in South Jersey.
“As a funder, we could not be more impressed with the accomplishments of the Virtua mobile grocery so far,” said Pepe Piperno, Domenica Foundation President. “We are proud to partner with Virtua Health to bring affordable, healthy food to low-income neighborhoods.”
Here are some of those accomplishments, by the numbers:
- The mobile grocery store has provided 151 shopping opportunities at its 7 host sites—3 in Burlington County and 4 in Camden County
- 1,762 transactions have been conducted by 511 customers.
- 67% of customers come back to shop again.
- 76% of the goods sold are perishable items—produce, meat, and dairy products.
- 68% of customers have recently received social service benefits, including 44% who received SNAP (food stamps).
April Schetler, assistant vice president of Virtua Health, said, “It has truly been amazing to see the Eat Well mobile grocery store come to life! From a decommissioned transit bus to a one-aisle grocery store on wheels, the mobile grocery store is helping to get more healthy, affordable food into the hands of those that need it most. We are so incredibly grateful for our generous supporters, like our friends from the Domenica Foundation, who have helped make this dream a reality!”
Virtua did a little comparison shopping at four local grocery stores near Eat Well host sites. The same bag of groceries that cost anywhere from $26.62 to $39.94 at nearby stores cost only $14.06 at the Eat Well bus.
Customer satisfaction is high. In answer to the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend the Mobile Grocery Store to a friend or colleague?” shoppers gave the store a net promoter score (NPS) of 82, which is “world class.”
Even more telling are the percentages of customers who say the mobile grocery store has changed their diet:
- 90% have more access to healthy food.
- 80% eat more fruits and vegetables.
- 79% prepare more nutritious meals and snacks.
“Those are exactly the kind of outcomes we’re looking for!” said Pepe. “No one should have to go hungry or settle for unhealthy food because of where they live or how much money they make.”