Universal Food Allocation
Ending Hunger in America and Fighting Poverty
by William Bishop
America is the wealthiest country in the world. The most powerful country in the world. The fattest country in the world. It is currently figured that we have the resources and technology to feed a population of 10 billion world-wide. How then, are the people of America not benefiting from the global surplus of foodstuff? It is the consequence of unregulated Capitalism gone awry. People are worked to provide the capital necessary to purchase food, and the consequence of economic competition with basic feeding necessity is that food is made as cheaply and preservable as possible while not being toxic as defined by the FDA. Excess food is destroyed to avoid devaluing the food being sold. While I personally would declare this to be reprehensible to do at all, and that we should nationalize food distribution and growth (not how its cooked/altered/packaged by private companies); it might not be politically possible (yet). I strongly suggest that we do nationalize food distribution, however. As a middleman it exists to distribute a common good (food) to private industry and retailers while deriving a profit. Nationalization exists for the sake of taking a private industry under the purview of the government for the public good when it is a necessary resource, and food distribution is as intrinsic to keeping a functional country as are roads and sewers. Theoretically, private industry could hold the hunger of the American people hostage unless the military were to intervene to deliver food at massive expense to the taxpayer. If it is truly impossible, however, I propose the government sources the goods directly from farmers and growers and ships it leveraging USPS to create its own food distribution platform that would outperform private distributors by massively decreasing cost to vendors and retailers. By doing one of these things we can take feeding the American people away from the control of corporations and private interests and make it a public service. This would eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by giving the poorest more economic freedom and subsequent social mobility.
By leveraging technology we can use the CSA system to directly interface the government food distribution system with the consumers, the American people. Every citizen is allocated a basic budget-friendly allowance to be provided a healthy staple foodstuff of each food group by the government of a diet reflecting current nutritional science. The standard at the time of writing this document is the “Mediterranean Diet.” Technology can be used to queue orders and ship monthly allowances of the most value-friendly (We can subsidize small farms and necessary crops) produce and protein. By using their CSA Food citizens can view the suggested allocation of the least expensive good available to the consumer. This good in monthly quantity will be highlighted and one can either select it for monthly delivery or relinquish CSA Food to use the credits elsewhere. By using their CSA Food citizens change the product type suit their desires at an additional cost to the citizen (Whatever the difference in the value of the resource was). It would be additionally possible (but not necessary it’s a matter for debate) to allow private vendors to sell bulk monthly goods for a mark-up if they adhere to certain requirements such as domestic production, job creation, and healthiness. Some tax concessions can be made to companies that adhere to these requirements, as they are benefiting the American people with their business. The up-sell could come with a small tax as well, giving the government some increased funds. Using USPS for all deliveries gives the USPS (which is currently a drain on the US government because of private shipping businesses) a ‘shot in the arm’ which would increase its use and revenue. The food allocated to households would be bundled to avoid excess shipping costs to the government.
Nutritional Requirements and Citizen Allotments:
The amount of food that would be directed to every household would reflect the persons living in the household according to latest census data (then updated via address change). This can alternatively be populated using data and addresses in the DMV. This would encourage census participation. (Although it doesn’t need to be done this way, just a thought since the census has been scaring people after the attempt to add the citizenship question) Each person would be allocated an amount which would allow each person in the household to be able to achieve nutritional requirements mandated by the government if proper rationing by the household and proportionate allocation of the total food from the government is distributed to each person correctly to suit their needs as outlined in the dietary guidelines. The amount of food will be allocated in such a fashion that 3 meals a day will give each citizen in the household a balanced nutritional diet with every meal. The amount people need (according to current nutritional science) is tied to their age which dictates their needed calorie intake. The calculations will reflect the diet for a 1805 average calorie intake for 332 million citizens(from census data, may not be accurate – that website is terrible).
Note: I’ll take 90% of the results for a 2000 calorie diet (90% of 2000 is 1800)
The amounts required per person (average of male and female 1:1 ratio):
- 2.5 cups vegetables (20 oz)
- 2 cups fruits (16 oz)
- 6 oz grain
- 3 cups dairy (24 oz)
- 5.5 cups protein (44 oz)
Cost data was obtained from:https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/AMSPurchasesbyCommodityFY19.pdf
By taking the total cost of a commodity and dividing it by the amount of pounds purchased, I calculated price per pound that the government currently spends.
Note: I am not sure if this is the best resource for creating this figure, I would need to get data from the USDA on how costs are determined and how the substantial change in volume would affect the cost.
The cost to the US government for each good(currently) is:
[I am using the cheapest commodity I saw in the doc, these may not be the least expensive available]
(Using increasingly expensive commodities could be available at an ‘upsell’ on cost difference)
*I rounded up for these figures. Additionally, the price would fluctuate dramatically if there was a massive uptick in the demand for a single good or crop, which is something to be negotiated and perhaps would have vegetable/fruit/commodities bundled rather than mono-type for cost and resource efficiency
Using these figures, we can calculate the (very conservative estimate – I think we can definitely get it much, much cheaper once the deals/distributions are ironed out.) The cost for CSA Food to the government based on the figures referenced:
The total cost would be 350 billion per year. This would be negotiated to create a tax rate from companies which no longer need to pay employees as much in cost of living, with smaller companies paying less than larger companies. (Theoretically if CSA works as intended, cost of living should be covered by the government. It is after all, THE COST OF LIVING.)
Pros and Cons of Food Allocation:
- No one in America will ever go hungry again.
- No one in America will ever go hungry again.
- This reflects current nutritional science, which would improve the diets of a majority of Americans which would have cascading benefits such as decreased obesity and reduced healthcare cost.
- A happier and healthier populace has increased productivity.
- This leverages technology to increase the ease of acquiring food especially in areas with no convenient access to large grocery retailers
- The reduced cost for sustenance while maintaining a minimum wage would greatly lift up people currently in poverty and allow more spending in other areas of the private sector, greatly boosting the economy. Shrink the lower class, increase the middle class. (Also shrink the 1%)
- By having the government acquire the bulk goods, the government would be able to take direct oversight of the quality of goods and the distributions, which would reduce costs.
- By having the government acquire the bulk goods, the government is in a single payer position with which to have greater bargaining power with private industry over costs.
- By using Citizen Service Accounts the US government can get in front of the increasingly digital age in a way that is easy and convenient for all citizens.
- This system can be additionally used by schools and orphanages and other institutions to create a centralized system for acquiring goods from the government which would reduce the amount of bureaucracy and inefficiency currently in place with having multiple different avenues requiring oversight in different places. I saw different groups had to use different avenues to acquire goods, and this would massively streamline that.
- By forcing regulation and requiring goods be made or manufactured domestically (I recommend 100% domestic) in order to be entered in the system, this would create jobs and revenue in America and not overseas.
- By using USPS for all shipping, this gives the USPS a boost in jobs and revenue.
- This would gradually phase out food stamps and *most* other government food assistance programs, again increasing efficiency and streamlining while reducing oversight and costs.
- There is no room for abuse of the funds as is the case for food stamps.
- This creates jobs for making and maintaining the system.
- This would be one of many in a ‘New Deal’
- Private industry and business will likely lobby massive push-back.
- It will likely be defamed as communist or socialist and trigger massive amounts of misinformation.
- It might be politically impossible without a progressive administration – vote for Bernie!.
- About 350 billion a year is a really big number for a lot of people.
- Again, these were the cheapest I could find. With single payer, distribution, and cost negotiating it would be substantially cheaper. The cheaper cost could be calculated before this idea was introduced to make it an easier pill (politically) to swallow.
Cost Reduction Options
- Nationalize food distribution
- Food distributors purchase crops and produce from growers and then sell it to retailers, merchants, contractors and or/ industrial, institutional and commercial users. By having the government assume the role of food distribution, food cost and supply can be directly controlled by the government. Growers will be able to sell crops requested by the government for reliable income, and demand for the type of produce and variety can be met by carefully dictating desired supply to growers. The government will also have negotiating power for food costs to private industry. This can be leveraged to support small business and small farms, and ensures that all private food industry is sourcing safe and inexpensive produce from the government. By removing private food distributors, the cost of the middleman between growers and vendors is removed which will significantly lower the cost of food nationwide, and create higher profits for private business. Small farms get priority in sales of goods to the government, supporting small business.
- Use non-citizen workers for labor to lower costs to growers
- Farms are one of the industries that are most reliant on using inexpensive labor from illegal immigration to stay profitable in the United States. The current administration’s crackdown on illegal workers has severely damaged the farming industry – especially to small farmers. The government should remove the moniker of “illegal immigrant” and instead call then “non-citizens”. Any person which wishes to enter America without using the direct citizenship process should be able to do so as a “non-citizen worker”. These individuals would be safe from deportation and are afforded the same basic rights as every citizen and can call upon medical, law enforcement, and other public services without fear of deportation. Non-citizen workers (NCW) will also be able to legally open bank accounts and pay taxes which will contribute to the economy substantially. The government would directly ‘hire’ NCW and contract them to farms where they are needed. The government will provide their food, medical, and housing costs. The full scope of NCW is explained in separate documentation. Because small farms would be able to hire NCWs cheaply from the government, it makes small farms competitive with large farms. (small farms would get a higher priority for laborers, and at a cheaper rate). This is not meant to be a long-term solution. NCW in farming should be placed in positions where automation can replace them in the future to prevent an economic model dependent on NCW.
- Nationalize Amazon
- Would certainly solve many, many problems.
Dietary Requirements Source:.