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Bonton Farms tackles South Dallas food desert with grocery delivery service

The brown exterior of Bonton Farms' main cafe set against a blue sky with trees and bushes in the foreground
Zara Amaechi
Bonton Farms in South Dallas is using a new tech-based concept to tackle food insecurity in the area.

Bonton Farms in South Dallas is using a $543,000 grant to support its new grocery delivery service aimed at fighting food insecurity.

The community farm and market was one of 28 organizations across the country to receive funds from the anti-hunger nonprofit Share Our Strength, which raises money to support families and communities suffering from food insecurity.

“If we're able to support this population, to lift that population out of poverty through these innovative solutions, then we can scale that to other populations,” said vice president of Family Economic Opportunity Lillian Singh.

After six years of focusing on its gardening concept, Bonton Farms recently launched a tech-based service called Grocery Connect.

The program serves communities where grocery stores can be several miles away. It targets families that lack transportation and parents that lack time to browse a grocery store delivering groceries and other goods without extra fees like subscriptions and tipping.

Gabe Madison is the president of Bonton Farms.

"If we wipe that out, that provides the community an ability to access fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, but also like the common toiletries, things that you can't get at a food pantry,” said Bonton Farms president Gabe Madison.

Share Our Strength helped be the bridge to get national grocery partners like Kroger to utilize the concept of online deliveries. Families can place their orders through the app and either pick them up from the store at any time or get it delivered to their doorstep.

“What we've estimated is that it saves a family about $1,200 roughly annually in just financial resources of not needing to borrow a car, get on public transportation, or use rideshare, which is a substantial amount of money,” Singh said.

Bonton Farms launched Grocery Connect in late January and has tailored the service to each neighbor. Kroger provides a specific delivery person dedicated to staying in the area their entire shift to get to know the neighborhood they are advocating for.

“They're having more of a personalized shopping experience because of the delivery person and creating more trust within the community with this type of model,” said Madison.

The farm also hired a community concierge to advertise and promote the service and specials to members that may have trouble working the program.

“This concierge is kind of a linchpin to making this all successful, because it's the way for the community to get used to a new concept,” Madison said.

Madison pointed out she uses the service as well.

Since the food is delivered directly from the fulfillment center and does not sit on shelves, the community is provided better quality produce than what the average shopper gets, she said.

"Having to be at the grocery store, in a situation where you can't get the quality because so many people have touched it, so many people have breathed on it,” Madison said. “You don't know what contamination is happening.”

Bonton Farms plans to work with Share Our Strength to launch two more grocery services throughout the Dallas area.

Zara was born in Croydon, England, and moved to Texas at eight years old. She grew up running track and field until her last year at the University of North Texas. She previously interned for D Magazine and has a strong passion for music history and art culture.