Daily Table: An Innovative Approach to Accessing Healthy Food at the Grocery Store

In the years after his 2012 retirement, Doug Rauch began to formulate a plan for a grocery store with healthy food options sold at a reasonable price. Three years later, in 2015, the former president of Trader Joe’s opened Daily Table, a non-profit retail grocery store, in Dorchester. In 2018, a second location opened in Roxbury, and according to Michael Malmberg, current chief operating officer, there are plans to open a third store in Massachusetts in the upcoming year.

Daily Table’s mission is to make healthy food choices available to everyone at affordable prices. The store also sells “heat and eat” prepared meals that are healthy, delicious, appealing, and economically affordable to their customers. 

The grocery store welcomes customers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and all food sold at Daily Table is SNAP-eligible, according to Malmberg. What’s more, the grocery store participates in the Double Up Food Bucks Program, administered by the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Food Access, which enables customers utilizing SNAP benefits to receive an additional 50 percent off with their purchases of fresh produce, a City of Boston initiative to encourage healthy eating choices.

While the concept of Daily Table as a non-profit organization is attractive in concept, in practice, of course, it has challenges, the kind of challenges, Malmberg said,that come with being an organization selling healthy food at junk food prices. 

Finding the balance between low and affordable prices and fresh and high quality of food is difficult.

The reality is that fresh and healthy food, food with strong nutritional value, is expensive. Daily Table takes pride in the fact that, for all the products sold at their stores, they follow a set of nutritional guidelines created by a panel of experts composed of nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors. 

“Another challenge for Daily Table is that we have a limited marketing budget,” Malmberg said. “Sometimes it’s hard because even people living in the neighborhood do not know about what Daily Table offers.”

The Daily Table team, however, is confident that customers will quickly realize the incredible value they offer upon shopping at the store. This includes not just a commitment to healthy, affordable food but also an intentional effort to reduce food waste.

“We do everything we can to prevent the disposal of food into the garbage can,” said Clifford Wiggins who joined Daily Table in October 2018 as the store manager at the Roxbury location. Compelled by a desire to support families in need of economically accessible high quality food.Wiggins appreciates that Daily Table conscientiously sources from local farms produce that would otherwise go to waste due to surplus or cosmetic inconsistencies. Eventually, Daily Table would like to expand beyond Massachusetts, but for now, there remains a lot of work to be done in the Bay State. “We would like to strengthen the stores in Massachusetts first.,” Wiggins said. “Once we know that the stores are operating and running smoothly, we will plan to expand further, as we’d like to make quality food accessible to everyone in the nation.”

Wiggins and Malmberg hope that as more people in the community hear about Daily Table, they will shop at their grocery stores. The business brought by their customers is what keeps the stores constantly running and they are grateful to the community for their continuous support and collaboration. 

Photo by Alice Kathryn Richardson courtesy of Daily Table.






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