Five religious leaders are supporting the use of “dark stores” because of the direct benefit to minority and low-income communities that have historically been left behind by technology. In an open letter published in the Empire Report, the clergymen were cautiously optimistic that grocery delivery could benefit the community when done right.
The term “dark stores” refers to when traditional stores dedicate their space to fulfill online food orders rather than operating like a traditional retail environment. These mini warehouses have been criticized for not integrating more into the communities they serve.
However, there are benefits that are important to recognize, according to the letter writers. Most important among those benefits is the ability to increase access to fresh and healthy food for underserved neighborhoods. Large areas within the inner cities have few options for purchasing groceries, making delivery alternatives a necessity for these “food deserts.” The reverends also noted that these stores can be a source of jobs, and by filling storefronts left vacant after the recent pandemic they provide a measure of safety 24/7.