Innovative Methods for Delivering Fresh Food to Underserved Populations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Transportation Engineering, Part A: Systems

Publication Date



This study analyzed a last-mile fresh food delivery system for individuals in underserved communities. Five alternative delivery networks with various modes were considered: conventional trucks, electric cargo bikes, third-party deliveries by personal car, personalized ride transportation services, and parcel lockers. The total cost was formulated and optimized for each alternative. Then, the optimized results for the alternatives were compared. For our baseline values, numerical results showed that delivery by third party was the most cost-effective alternative in delivering fresh items, while truck deliveries ranked second. Personalized ride service and parcel locker delivery were more expensive than home-delivery services. Although more vehicles and frequent trips were needed for all alternatives as service area increased, home-delivery services had a moderate increase in total cost compared to other types. The personalized ride scenario was less influenced by changes in user value of waiting time. At a low demand density, truck operation may not be economically feasible. The study examined whether truck delivery could perform multiple tasks (i.e., delivering items to customers and fulfillment centers in a single delivery tour). Finally, mode shares for home deliveries were estimated when multiple delivery alternatives coexisted.