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New food delivery program aims to fight food deserts on South, West sides

A FoodQ meal delivery truck

FoodQ, a meal delivery program, aims to get healthy food to people in Chicago's food deserts. | Provided photo

A new food delivery service announced on Tuesday aims to provide healthy lunch and dinner options in so-called “food deserts” on the South and West sides.

The program is called foodQ and operates in 25 ZIP codes across Chicago, encompassing dozens of neighborhoods such as North Lawndale, Chatham and Back of the Yards.

The company advertises its meals as “chef-prepared” and “nutritionally balanced without foregoing flavor.”

FoodQ has partnered Chicago-based Kitchfix to prepare and deliver the meals. On its website, Kitchfix says all of its foods are “approved by a nutritionist” and “free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy, refined sugars and artificial preservatives.”

Meals available to order from the foodQ website include an Italian cheese pasta, pork marinated in adobo, vegetable chow mein, and a turkey chorizo burger.

The company encourages users to subscribe to program for $10 per month, which includes free delivery for all orders and a buy-one-get-one option for every meal purchased.

According to the company’s website, “BOGO meals can be delivered to you, donated to serve the community, or dropped in your queue for later use.”

Without a subscription, each meal costs $10 with an added $6 delivery cost.

FoodQ is operated by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute, a subsidiary and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. FoodQ was developed with funding from the Health Care Service Corp., the parent of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois.

In a statement, Dr. Trent Haywood, president of the BCBS Institute, said the foodQ pilot program aims to address health inequities in Chicago by providing a healthier food service option for people living far from fresh produce markets.

“We know a ZIP code is just as important as a genetic code in determining a person’s health — impacting medical needs and access to care,” he said.

“With the alarming rates of obesity and diabetes in our country, we need a different approach to supporting healthy living, and this pilot program can help remove the barriers that keep people from accessing healthy, affordable and nutritious foods.”

Customers interested in ordering foodQ meals first enter their ZIP code in the foodQ website to determine if they are eligible for the program.

Once eligibility is verified, participants enter their payment information, select a meal, then choose a date and time for delivery.

Customers will then receive a text message confirming the order and notifications when the food is on its way and has been delivered.

The foodQ pilot program will run through August, said Manika Turnbull, HCSC vice president and community health and economic impact officer.

“Following the six-month pilot, we’ll evaluate the program and look at various options including potential expansion into the delivery of meal kits, so people can prepare meals in their homes,” she said.

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