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City to expand Virtual Supermarket to additional communities

Baltimore's Virtual Supermarket program will be offered at Perkins Homes and Wayland Village Senior Apartments, under an expansion Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to announce Tuesday.

The city's program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, allows shoppers to order their groceries online and receive free deliveries at community sites in Baltimore's food deserts. The program is designed to expand the availability of healthy food in the city's low-income neighborhoods that don't have any large grocery stores nearby.

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"This expansion is about making life better for too many Baltimore City families who lack easy access to groceries, more than 30,000 of which are our children," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "That is absolutely unacceptable to me.

"In partnership with our community and business partners, we are taking action to help residents in some of our most challenged neighborhoods access healthy foods to feed their families."

The expanded effort is offered in partnership with Klein's Family Markets and ShopRite of Howard Park..

The city re-launched its Virtual Supermarket in July with ShopRite of Glen Burnie at two sites in Cherry Hill. Shoppers in South Baltimore can pick up their groceries at the Cherry Hill branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Cherry Hill Senior Manor apartments.

The program was dormant for about nine months after the original grocery partner, Santoni's Super Market, closed its doors. The online service was first offered in March 2010.

Perkins Homes residents can get help ordering from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays. Their groceries will be delivered from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Residents at Wayland Village Senior Apartments can get help from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. Groceries ordered then will be dropped off from 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays.

What makes Baltimore's program unique is that customers don't have to pay for their groceries until they're delivered, which allows the Virtual Supermarket to accept food stamps. Shoppers also can use cash, credit or debit cards.

The program is funded through grants from various organizations, including the United Way of Central Maryland.

For more information, go to Baltimarket.org, an online portal that also provides details on farmers' markets, urban farms, community gardens and cooking classes.

Residents also can order groceries using the Virtual Supermarket and ShopRite from Home website on any computer or smartphone.

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