Thursday, September 13, 2012

fresh, from scratch, on your phone

I’ve been troubled by something since I moved to SoBro a couple years ago. So many families here eat poorly and they don’t have to.

Profits for U.S. corporations have been at an all time record high, beginning in 2010. Did you know that? Meet the wealthy 1%.
Despite these incredible riches at the very tippy top, recessionary food stamp usage at the bottom has equally skyrocketed to an all time high. Say Hello to our neighbors, the other 99.
In total, 29% of the Bronx is on public food assistance. Nationwide, foodstamps have exploded. And that chart is just since 2007.

Even in our wealthy city, 3 million New Yorkers experience difficulty affording food every month. 
Amazing, no? Three million?

Problem is, the stuff they buy... is awful. I’m sorry but I see it everytime I shop.

Orange soda, Debbies Cakes...

...big bags of salty snacks and frozen Alaskan King Crab. (what?)
They don’t buy fresh produce because they don’t really know how to prepare it.

So even when local tomatoes are in season and on sale at half the canned price, they still purchase the same can that they know. I decided to help break that cycle.

First I looked around at the various food organizations and realized no one was supporting a restaurant experience for poor folks. They deserve a fun night out now and then, too.

So with a little help from my friends, I set out to my Congressman to ask for a legislative carve-out. 

Naive me.

“I just want the raw food value of a restaurant meal payable on public assistance as supermarket food can be,” I said on the phone, “the balance of the value will be paid in cash or credit or debit as always. But they'll be served far healthier meals.”

Congressman Serrano’s Senior Policy Advisor for Economic Development invited me in for a morning meeting. She liked this new idea. 
But she also advised me that legislation is a decade long effort. “Give that up, Gregory” she intoned with a solemn face, “conservative Congressmen and Senators will not expand a food assistance program in a recession.”
True that. 

Instead, she suggested I find an angel to subsidize my mission and help me take it to the supermarkets in the hood. They operate on a 2% margin, and they are already set up to accept public food assistance.

Even a modest restaurant can deliver a 20% operating margin, 10 times what the same square footage would generate as a market. So they have motivation$ to build. 

Please help me find the investor I need. Someone with cash and who wants to make a difference. Copy and paste the URL of this post to everyone who may know someone or who can help directly.
Help bring to our neighborhood public-assisted eating that is fresh and tasty, healthy and heart conscious, and let’s make the shopping list and the preparation video downloadable to our phone while we are eating it.
So if we like it, we can make it again at home.

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