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That Food Desert Life
Traveling long distances to have access to better nutrition is unfair. It is what characterizes a food desert. You are supposed to be able to access nutrition (not just “stuff you can eat”, but actual food with the nutritional value God put in it unadulterated by copious processing and chemical intervention) close to home. That’s your birthright. Even after Eden, no one had to really travel for days to get food on a regular basis. You could grow it right there at your feet, outside your front and/or back tent flap, as it were. So this Food Desert thing is a problem, and it plays out as a problem for the proletariat – working class folk who, like I just indicated, do work indeed, but because of the crazy
dynamics of the American economy, still need help feeding their family. We are not supposed to have this problem at all! Even the money you have to put in the gas tank or spend on public transportation to travel to a more affluent area to shop in a better supermarket makes a difference in such households. On top of the cost of transportation that you can count is the cost of the time it takes to make this journey. That is a more difficult cost to count for some. For me, it was somewhere between $105-$140, because I was blessed to be working from home and I made $35/hour, it took me at least an hour each way to travel plus time to search diligently for the sales and selecting in season, organic produce so I could get the most nutrition for the dollars I had available. And the only dollars I had available were on that little white card.
Now, what if you could use your SNAP card to get your groceries online, free delivery? This thought crossed my mind numerous times. I even called Fresh Direct once to ask, and they said regrettably, no, we cannot take that form of payment. Yet. In 2014.
It’s a New Day
I did say change is upon us, right? In an era when our president is the least sympathetic to those of us who have to be careful with every dollar and are affected by small changes in income and benefit amounts, what change?
This time last year, in September 2016, a quiet but hugely significant victory was fresh. The push to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefit card to order food online was a success, championed by Gunnar Lovelace, founder of online non-gmo and organic wholesale club Thrive Market, and backed by more than 310,000 signers on a petition, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) and a handful of celebrities, fellow retailers and non-profit organizations.
The USDA launched the pilot program this year in several states with Amazon, Fresh Direct, Hy-Vee, Safeway and a selection of other grocers. I’m not sure how much they are publicizing it but if you live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Iowa and have not heard anything, you should go find out immediately how you can take advantage of this breakthrough opportunity to be released from the bonds of food desert life. Conspicuously, Thrive Market was not included in the pilot program, but a small crack in the dam has happened, and the hood gon’ eat like Park Avenue now.
Benefits with Benefits
Past SNAP advances that have actually attempted to focus on nutrition include Health Bucks and farmers markets and allowing the purchase of seedlings for food plants with your benefit card. These kinds of changes, coupled with more awareness among the general population about the links between food and health, will make a greater impact on the healthcare crisis we have on our hands than any other technology, new medications, or medical procedures.
With success in the pilot, more states and more retail options will continue to open up, and Thrive will take its rightful place among the available options for SNAP benefit recipients. Coupled with their commitment to giving a free membership to a low income family for every paid membership, they will be a part of leveling the playing field of nutrition access, and the edible caste system will be chopped and screwed.
Click Here if you still aren’t thriving and you’re ready to start. You get a 30 day free trial, 25% off your first and free shipping!
Here’s my personal story about SNAP, food desert life, and Thrive Market. Please share yours in the comments.