This Grocery Store Solves the Riddle of Cheap, Healthy Food

Former President of Trader Joe’s, Doug Rauch, has done it again.

Dec 23, 2015
Doug Rauch is the founder of Daily Table

Doug Rauch was motivated by food waste and the high cost of nutritious food to create Daily table (businessinsider)

Imagine this: a non-profit grocery store that gathers nutritious food that would otherwise be wasted, prepares ready-to-eat meals with it, and then sells it at extremely low prices. Well, no need to imagine - this brilliant idea has come to life thanks to Doug Rauch, former president of supermarket chain Trader Joe’s.

Daily Table, as Rauch came to call it, seeks to tackle a number of issues surrounding food insecurity. First, that food deserts are often less about the inaccessibility of food, and more about the inaccessibility of healthy foods. Second, that around 40 percent of the food we grow is thrown out. Third, that food insecure Americans aren’t looking for handouts – they would prefer to buy a product. And fourth, that 80 percent of Americans don't know what they're having for dinner at 4pm in the afternoon.  

Daily Table employees prepare ready-to-eat meals Daily Table chefs are challenged to create healthy, ready-to-eat meals with different ingredients donated on a daily basis (co.EXIST)

Rauch hit the nail on the head when he describes the challenges with America’s food system in an interview with Co.Exist. “The food system is designed from the farm on up to create calories that are cheap and nutrients that are expensive. People on the lowest economic rung get squeezed the hardest,” he says.  The result? “Someone who can barely afford dinner might also be obese.”

Daily Table partners with vendors to collect excess food – most of which is unblemished. Half of the food is sold as produce, and the other half is prepared into ready-to-eat meals. Rauch’s research shows that the majority of the 49 million food insecure Americans prefer to buy a product. “It helps provide dignity. They don’t want to be stigmatized,” he noted. So the food is priced, but at very low costs. At Daily Table, a dozen eggs costs 99 cents, a meal of roasted chicken with rice and vegetables is $1.49, and most other prepared meals are under two dollars.

So far, Daily Table has been a hit – the first store located in the Boston area has 5,000 members and hundreds of customers every day. As Rauch looks to expand, he hopes to change not only what people eat at mealtimes, but their long-term food habits as well.

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Mirele writes about everything related to doing good, with a particular interest in volunteering and social entrepreneurship, informed by her background in eco tourism.