Grocery and meal delivery services are growing at an astonishing rate within the United States. Specifically, Millennials, who are often portrayed as having too much work and not enough time, seem eager to take full advantage of meal delivery services which can offer convenience and down-right good food after a long day of work. However, to limit this growing industry to one generation is foolhardy, as the benefits can be reaped by people of any age.
This move towards meal delivery does come with hidden concerns and costs. As more restaurants and grocery stores partner with delivery services, it exacerbates the sedentary lifestyle that is contributing to America's obesity problem. This lifestyle has been linked to the increased consumption of unhealthy foods, leading to poor diet management. In essence, some argue there could be a feedback loop that encourages people to move less and eat unhealthy foods.
Although there are companies that can help negate the sedentary lifestyle by offering healthy foods and meals, it's still a cause for concern. As more and more fast food outlets turn towards delivery (TacoBell is the latest), it increases the opportunity for Americans to eat highly-processed and unhealthy foods. However, this shouldn't overshadow the convenience of such services. As an avid GrubHub user myself, I don't think the change from ordering via telephone to computer makes me any less active, and it definitely doesn't alter my order from a salad to a six-course burger feast. Personal choice is always important to remember when it comes to food industry spending.
Perhaps that is why USDA proposed allowing grocery and meal delivery services to accept SNAP benefits. The services would need to be run by non-profits or government-run agencies, the idea of a state-sponsored food agency that can delivery nutritious products directly to the home is compelling. Although Millennials would likely benefit from such a program, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes that elderly Americans and the disabled would most likely benefit from the program. Only 42% of eligible eldery citizens use SNAP benefits, compared to 83% of all eligible individuals that are enrolled in the program.
The fact that the U.S. government is beginning to facilitate meal delivery for state-sponsored programs is telling of how important the service is becoming to the average American. Despite the fact that the fledgling industry still has a lot to learn, it would appear that it will weave itself into the fabric of American life for years to come.
Chris is a business writer and market analyst that focuses on the Markets, Legal and Washington sections of the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He invites you to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about anything food-related.
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