Yesterday, the Davis Vanguard's "Food Assistance Has Tripled in Yolo County in the Past Year - Here's How We Can Continue to Meet These Critical Needs" invited some obvious praise - and perhaps some not so obvious further thoughts...
But to start I'll say: Good going Yolo Food Bank! And Freedge, Davis Nightmarket, Tuesday Table, Buy Nothing (Facebook) and others in your efforts towards nutritional equity. It’s also vital that doubling for Calfresh (EBT/”Food stamps”) at Farmers’ Markets continues.
I’m curious, however: The combined value – monetary, simplified – of the assistance one e.g. single-member household can get from Calfresh and related government-programs with YFB and the other programs is substantial. If one has the capacity, organization, transportation etc. it’s not difficult to receive upwards of $400 of assistance per month. That’s great, but a wealthier person – I didn’t say a “wealthy person” – can simply go to Nugget, the Davis Food Co-Op, or the many specialty stores for all their needs (yes, one can use EBT for food items on Amazon). No travel around town (a challenge for people without easy automobile access), no waiting out the produce at Farmers’ Market which is distributed for free later in the day.
So it seems that potential calories, proteins, phytonutrients etc. are at a considerably more equitable level than the distribution system itself. A member of a low-income household visiting a half-dozen locations at all times of day for food which the wealthier person can get in one trip is simply far from equitable.
Is there a concept in these organizations to administratively and literally centralize all this food into a seamless operation, for example a $500+ monthly Calfresh allowance for a single-person household, and perhaps even a certain fraction that can be used at a restaurant (Calfresh currently partners with McDonald’s, 7/11 etc, seems contrary to the program’s nutrition agenda but paternalism is not welcome here, okay.)? Is this a goal, that’s stymied – at best – by government actors? What examples do we have from other places?
Hungry for some answers….