Checkout-Free Tech Provider Joins Effort to Eliminate Food Deserts

Grabango to donate grocery technology in underserved communities with few nutritional resources
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Checkout-Free Tech Provider Joins Effort to Eliminate Food Deserts
Grabango has joined Pledge 1%, committing 1% of its grocery technology and 1% of its employees’ time to eliminating food deserts and improving access to healthy food in underserved communities.

Not only is it eliminating grocery lines, Grabango’s checkout-free system is also doing its part to eliminate food deserts. By joining Pledge 1%, the company is committing 1% of its technology to help grocers operate in communities without adequate fresh food.

Pledge 1% is a global movement to inspire, educate and empower every company to leverage their assets for good. Through its pledge, Grabango is donating 1% of its checkout-free grocery installations to the low- and moderate-income neighborhoods that have historically operated as food deserts. Grabango is also donating 1% of its employees' time to work on these and other projects affecting food security in communities.

Food deserts are geographic areas where residents live without practical access to the healthy, economical food typically carried in grocery stores. As a result, many residents must rely on fast-food options or prepackaged snacks from liquor stores. While these items offer caloric sustenance, they are often high in saturated fats, salt and refined sugars, and have been shown to have a negative impact on a variety of health outcomes.

“So much of modern technology is built for the wealthy first, and only eventually trickles down for use in our broader society. At Grabango, we're seeking to do just the opposite. We want to benefit those most in need by donating our technology for use in the neighborhoods with the fewest nutritional resources. Working in partnership with the Pledge 1% movement on this objective was a natural fit for us,” said Will Glaser, CEO of Berkeley, Calif.-based Grabango.

Grabango’s technology enables stores on the periphery of food deserts to remain in operation and empowers retailers to open new ones within the hearts of these zones. As indicated by the company, retailers want to operate wherever there are consumers, and consumers want quality food at an affordable price. Grabango is sharing its technology that allows these two to come together sustainably.

“By enabling full-service grocery stores to operate in areas that have been considered food deserts in the past, Grabango’s technology effectively transforms these zones into fertile ground for new commerce that can anchor a broader redevelopment of local businesses,” said Glaser.

“We’re honored to partner with Grabango to further their efforts to promote community wellness by generously committing employee time and product to improve the lives of millions of people in need of nutritious food at a reasonable price,” said Amy Lesnick, chief executive and president of San Francisco-based Pledge 1%. “Grabango is an amazing role model for other purpose-driven companies striving to leverage their own unique strengths and ecosystem to generate meaningful impact. Together, we’re building a vibrant movement — and companies like Grabango are key to making this a reality.”

Using sophisticated computer vision and artificial intelligence, Grabango's checkout-free technology is designed for existing large-scale store chains. It's the only enterprise-class, checkout-free solution deployed at multiple store chains coast to coast. Food retailer Giant Eagle first incorporated the technology into stores July 2019. The platform works as a fault-tolerant edge-computing network that processes millions of simultaneous transactions. Last year, Grabango raised $39 million in Series B funding.

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