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Grocery lockers open in rural Iowa

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 19:03:56-04

SHELBY, Iowa (KMTV) - Iowa's rural towns are facing a challenge. Their local grocery stores are closing, so one grocery store owner is opening refrigerated food lockers to do something about it.

The towns of Walnut and Shelby will now have an easy way to get their groceries: through Fresh Out of the Box refrigerated food lockers.

"These locker devices have been around for a while, maybe 10 years in America, and even longer overseas," said Theo Ramsey, co-owner of Ramsey's Market.

Ramsey is a grocery store owner in Lenox aiming to maintain rural Iowa.

"Flexibility is where our head is. We know that this is maybe not the answer for the next 20 years but we'll keep evolving as long as we can," Ramsey said.

It works like this: People can use the lockers by placing orders online through Ramsey's Market. The groceries will be delivered to the lockers and the shopper gets a notification that their delivery is ready with a code to their assigned locker.

"It's great for that aging in place concept, allowing people who are less mobile and don't want to travel as far. They don't have to move, they don't have to leave their hometown," said Liesl Seabert with the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Seabert says finding solutions to keep rural America alive will require creativity and innovation.

"I think it's going to be a community by community basis," Seabert said. "The more examples we have to share and let communities take control of their own fate, the better."

The lockers are part of a pilot program funded through Iowa Economic Development Authority's rural initiative program.