Sunday, June 17, 2007

Promoting a healthy diet among the poor

"California no longer issues paper food stamps. Eligible recipients of food assistance in California are now issued a debit card called a "Golden State Advantage" card (known also as an "EBT card" or a "food stamp card"), and access their food benefits electronically by swiping their card when they buy food at the grocery store. California Farmers' Markets, and other outdoor food markets and produce stands, do not usually have the electricity and phone lines needed for all eligible food vendors to deal with electronic benefit transfers. Therefore, many such markets allow all eligible food vendors to sell eligible food products to EBT cardholders by setting up a Central Point of Sale (POS) Device to sell market scrip to customers, who can then shop in the market with the scrip. This system requires the market management to become authorized to accept EBT food benefits and to organize and promote the use of EBT cards at the market."

My friend Annie who sent me this link adds:

"Food stamps for low-income persons and families were issued as paper coupons in the past. In 2004, Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) replaced the traditional paper issues. It functions like a debit card/account for people to use. The Ecology Center, Berkeley coordinated efforts with several state, county, public, and community organizations to enabled certified organic farmers' markets to accept the EBT cards ( the California Farmers' Market Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Implementation and Promotion Project) Basically, allowing recipients of food stamp benefits to have access to local organic markets. Which is a great way of promoting healthy diets among the poor, as well as sustainable living."

Facilitating access of the poor to healthy, nutritious food is often neglected. During the Israeli war on lebanon of July-August 2006, relief agencies were distributing tons of dry food to the refugees from the South and the Southern suburbs. The aim was to cover the need in calories without addressing nutrition needs. Healthy Basket, a company working in the marketing of organic produce started distributing fresh fruits and vegetables. The success was immediate, as people were starved for fresh produce.

In the current Nahr el Bared crisis, the Nahr el Bared relief Campaign started by purchasing and distributing dry food (powdered milk, tinned food). As other, more established relief outfits started moving in, the NBRC started distributing vouchers for the value of LBP5,000 ($3.3), which can be exchanged for fresh fruits and vegetables in some of the shops of the refugee camps. This is proving to be very popular and very successful, as people do not have access to cash and cannot spend on essential fresh produce.


Marcy / مارسي said...

I'm so happy this is working, Rami! Thanks for keeping us posted via your blog. I now added your blog to my RSS reader so everytime you post something I'll check it immediately. Please don't give up on me! ;)

Ms Levantine said...

Vouchers sound like a great idea. Any signs of price gouging?

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