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Benny

For Most Food Stamp Users, Online Shopping Isn’t an Option

Whether they need more yeast for stress baking or the comfort of Kraft macaroni and cheese, Americans sequestered by social distancing are shopping for groceries online. But for many low-income households using food stamps, that can happen only in person.

About 38 million people receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but how they can use them is often limited by technology or government policy. That means they must walk the aisles, increasing the possibility of coronavirus exposure for a group of Americans that includes the poor, older people and those with disabilities.

Ariel Smith, 23, has a connective tissue syndrome that makes it difficult for her to work, and the idea of visiting a store makes her nervous.

“With any chronic health condition, your body is working so hard to keep you stable, so there is not a lot of bandwidth for something like Covid-19,” said Ms. Smith, who lives in Austin, Texas.

She receives about $195 in SNAP benefits each month, but her state does not offer a way to use that money online. Most don’t, although Texas and several other states have recently signed up for a pilot program that would expand that access.

Congress authorized the pilot program six years ago, but it got off the ground only last year — and advocates for low-income Americans say it could have made a bigger difference during the pandemic if the government and other stakeholders had moved faster.

“It should have happened yesterday, and it should be accessible to everyone,” said Patricia Baker, a senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, an advocacy group for low-income people.

Some stores are using a workaround that doesn’t require coordinating with the government: allowing SNAP recipients to place orders online and then swipe their benefit cards when they pick up their groceries. The nearest grocer to Ms. Smith’s home, H-E-B, told her that it was working on a way to do that; the chain said this week that it was testing curbside payment.

But that’s possible only if a store’s system is already set up to allow customers to place an order and pay later. Stores that require online payment for delivery or pickup can do so for SNAP recipients only if their state is part of the pilot program set up by the Agriculture Department.

The program is fully operational in nine states: New York, the first to join a year ago; Washington; Alabama; Iowa; Oregon; Nebraska; Florida; and Kentucky and California, both of which started this week. Two retailers, Walmart and Amazon, are participating in all those states.

polarbear4

this is one of those times I am grateful for where I live. A company called imperfect operating up and down the left coast, I believe based in San Francisco, gets imperfect and surplus food from the best (local, a lot, but not always) sources they can find and we get a delivery every week or every other week, our choice.

Just this week, they started delivering to SNAP recipients and the elderly who meet the income requirements.

Even their regular prices are lower than the store. lots of veggies—they are the stars. dairy, meat and fish, and snacks. some staples. i get a quart of local (Portland) organic half and half for $3. they are expanding now and i’m thrilled to be a part of a different kind of food supply chain.

If I were young and had some money to start a business, I might well do this. Buy a van, hit your local farms, deliver. on the website, you can see how much carbon, water, etc., they estimate you saved.

orlbucfan

T and R, jcb!! 😊🕊 Mr. Hi-tech hubby mentioned ByeDone picking $hrill for VP. I replied that sure, that’s a good way to guarantee a tRump victory. And a win in the total vote count. ByeDone is stupid enuff to do it. 😡🤮

Benny

Benny

I’m not agreeing with Sirota necessarily by posting his tweet. I’m more interested in the privacy issue, and I’m not certain Sirota is addressing that. What I do question is Biden when he said that he was going to open up his papers in 2021. Reports I’ve read was it was supposed to be this year.

Benny

Benny

Chances are those papers have been temporarily removed or reindexed.

orlbucfan

There have to be other reliable sources of evidence backing her up besides these papers.

humphrey

humphrey

humphrey

I don’t think that it is a mere coincidence that “ibelievebiden” is trending”

The dem operatives and their bots have been quite busy lately!

Benny

orlbucfan

Living in an urban area, I will miss the notable reduction of air and noise pollution when “the normal” cranks back up.

Benny

Benny

Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart Workers Organize a Historic Mass Strike

In early April, Vice News obtained a leaked memo from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership, which described a campaign to smear the fired warehouse organizer Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

Led by Smalls, dozens of organizers have been planning the logistics of the walkout over Zoom calls in recent days. Since the pandemic broke out, retail, warehouse and gig workers have coalesced around a similar list of demands: personal protective gear, health care benefits, paid leave, and hazard pay—making it natural for them to coordinate a mass action.

“We have workers at more than 100 stores who’ve agreed to participate and some stores were enough people will call out to shut stores down,” Adam Ryan, a Target worker in Christiansburg, Virgina, and a lead organizer of the walkout at Target, told Motherboard. “We’re trying to echo calls for a general strike. We want to shut down industry across the board and pushback with large numbers against the right-wing groups that want to risk our lives by reopening the economy.”

On May 1, a day historically celebrated globally by the left as International Workers’ Day or May Day, small business owners and right-wing groups will stage “Reopen America” rallies in cities around the country, including Washington DC and Chicago.

The so-called “May Day General Strike” is the culmination of a series of strikes led by workers at companies like Whole Foods, Amazon and Instacart since the pandemic began. The organizers at the forefront of the recent labor unrest form the face of the country’s resurgent labor movement: non-union, underemployed, and precarious workers who have taken things into their own hands to demand changes and organize their co-workers in the absence of a union—primarily over social media and encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.

Worker-led online groups, such as Whole Worker, Target Workers Unite, and the Instacart Shoppers (National) Facebook group, with thousands of members spanning the country—have been years in the making, but have experienced unprecedented growth during the pandemic, organizers say.

While the mass strike action might not be enough to shut down society, the collective action certainly echoes the calls for a general strike—a coordinated work stoppage across businesses and industries in pursuit of a common goal—the likes of which have not been seen in the United States since World War II.

The planned mass strike was in part seeded at the grocery delivery app Instacart, which recently became profitable for the first time since its founding in 2012, according to a report in The Information. On March 30, thousands of Instacart workers went on strike to demand protective gear, $5 hazard pay per order, and an expansion of paid sick leave to high risk workers. Following Instacart walkout, Whole Foods workers and Target’s delivery app Shipt workers staged their own strikes—making similar demands. Amazon workers at warehouses in Staten Island, Detroit, Chicago, and most recently Shakopee, Minnesota have staged their own walkouts.

The demands for Instacart, Amazon, Whole Foods, and Shipt strikes on May 1 remain largely the same as they did during initial strike actions, as companies have largely resisted providing workers with sufficient paid leave, protective gear, and hazard pay.

“It’s very important for us as similarly positioned workers to come together for demands that are pretty universal,” Vanessa Bain, a lead organizer of the Instacart walkout, told Motherboard. “In addition to building broader worker power, the point of our mass strike action is to bring this to the attention of the politicians and policy makers. We need them to address our demands now, and the fastest way to ensure that this happens is for companies to feel pressured into doing it.”

Benny

How to Make the Best of the Mess Our Ruling Class Has Made

Tyson says that its workers are documented. But Trump and the likes of the Iowa congressman Steve King, the race-baiting Republican, have Latino workers shaking in their boots. The governor warns that if a plant reopens and you don’t show up, unemployment benefits cease. And then the president orders that the plants shall reopen come hell or a virus. The leaders of the big meatpackers are warning of spot meat shortages – plant capacity has dropped 40% in recent weeks from worker shortages. You just can’t let this Storm Lake plant shut down. But what happens if it explodes? The anxiety cuts to our quick.

Remember, too, that Smithfield Foods is owned by a Chinese conglomerate. Prestage Farms, in Eagle Grove, Iowa, has taken to sending whole hog carcasses to China for lack of further processing help amid our cornfields. This is not really an American food shortage.

The supply chain is so tight that when two plants go down – Smithfield in Sioux Falls and Tyson in Waterloo – fully 10% of national pork production is knocked out. Everyone has to eat, and they have not yet developed a taste for algae or even tofu. The world eats meat. Shoppers can clear out a grocery display in minutes, and a meat supply in a week.

Somebody has to process the hogs and birds that keep coming no matter a virus. Mike Pence called our neighbors heroes. The secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, called them patriots. Trump stopped legal residency permitting for immigrants. Nobody is talking about amnesty or even hearing the refugees. In fact, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told Bloomberg Law nobody is talking about providing undocumented workers healthcare.

The state and federal governments did not order slower line speeds or provide protective gear for the packinghouse. Tyson asked for imposed guidance and resources, and got a promise of liability protection from worker claims. But there is this sticky thing called the 10th amendment that does not allow the president to waive corporate liabilities in state courts or workers’ compensation processes, says Storm Lake attorney Willis Hamilton, who has been advocating for food processing employees for nearly 50 years. The order was about instilling fear, Hamilton said. He says his clients are afraid of sick leave and afraid of filing for workers’ comp or unemployment.

“They have to threaten people. These ‘don’t even think about it’ orders fit into a system that marches workers to their deaths,” Case said. “Fear is turning to anger, and that’s when people organize.”

Or just pray.

polarbear4

They could have a choice, to temporarily enlist in a quick process in the National Guard, and get that pay and benefits, or to stay home and a National Guard take their place until it is safe.