Guaranteed income helps mothers and food banks are getting bigger

in January 28th, 2022

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Guaranteed income is helping mothers gain autonomy

Tue Jan 18

Without equitable access to education, resources, and more, those below the poverty line most often remain there. The solution? Many claim guaranteed income (aka universal basic income), where low-income families receive monthly cash installments, will pull them out of poverty long-term. When we first reported on this subject a year ago, critics claimed that guaranteed income would reduce motivation to work, an old argument that has defeated guaranteed income proposals in the past. Some also pointed to a study that found no evidence such income resulted in lasting improvements in equality.

But since then, a number of experiments have proven otherwise. Most recently in New York City, the Bridge program has already helped low-income new mothers gain autonomy. Here’s how it works:

  • First, participants with average household income below $14,500 (the poverty line) are selected. Most often, this is Black or Hispanic mothers with less than $100 in savings.
  • Funded by venture capitalists, the program provides $1,000 payments monthly to these mothers for 18 months, followed by another $500 the following 18 months.
  • So far, it’s helped empower the mothers by covering the cost of basic baby supplies, groceries outside of food stamps, and even Uber rides to the hospital.
  • And by covering such basic needs, mothers could pursue higher education for better paying jobs, live more healthfully, and be less at the mercy of powerful landlords.

Now, over 35 guaranteed income pilot programs are underway across 17 states. The largest efforts are in Chicago ($500 a month to 5,000 families) and Los Angeles ($1,000 a month to 3,000 families). While New York has little presence in comparison, the Bridge program is expanding to accommodate more mothers.

Food banks (and scarcity) get bigger

Fri Jan 14

It’s been clear since at least 2016 that food banks are nearly at capacity. Limited space even led some food banks to turn away donations. COVID-19 only made matters worse, increasing demand at U.S. food banks by 60%, as millions of Americans turned to food banks for the first time. Many states — including California, Georgia, Iowa, and New Jersey — are leasing much larger building spaces to accommodate the continually growing demand and donation needs.

Even food workers are becoming food insecure with stagnant wages and rising food prices, including 78% of the 10,000 surveyed Kroger employees. Globally, food scarcity has worsened while the poorest countries experienced a sharp increase in food prices and inflation caused by a storm of issues including COVID-19, climate change, conflict, and economic instability. While the work of food banks is an immediate need, some are worried it could distract from solving the root cause of poverty.

In other words, the ideal scenario is that food banks get smaller as people are able to secure food themselves. Fortunately, some are taking this into consideration.

  • In Chicago, organizers have already adjusted their expansion plans to redesign their food banks without communal meeting spaces; the team learned that community meetings need to happen within the communities themselves to drive change.
  • Millions of Americans are getting access to healthy food through the USDA. The funds come from a $12 billion investment through Congress.
  • Investment in prevention of food insecurity has started in the U.S., including unionization to ensure livable wages and funding, such as federal grants, for community programs.
  • And globally, the World Bank has started on some long-term solutions, including financial support, food kits, and an investment into agriculture technology.

Below The Fold Bytes

Trucker Shortage Takes a Turn

While the pandemic (and Brexit) worsened already concerning trucker shortages globally, companies are left with little choice but to finally increase wages for this historically underpaid role. While this could mean an increase in costs for consumers, it also means greater reliability of product availability. Other perks are also on trial to make up for the difficult lifestyle of a truck driver. Meanwhile, President Biden is working on allowing younger drivers to take on the job. >> Read More

Fighting to Keep the Rio Grande 

Inspired by the tribal communities that came together at Standing Rock, Indigenous feminists have formed the Pueblo Action Alliance to bring tribal nations into decision-making processes on water policies. They're also fighting to be policy leaders and take action against decades of drought and a lack of enforcement for existing regulations. The urgency is increasing as the Rio Grande continues to shrink under current, colonial-era laws, taking precious forest with it. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

Feeding America has an easy resource for finding a food bank near you. If any in your proximity are accepting donations, consider what items you donate thoughtfully. For example, many unhoused community members do not have health or dental insurance, making it hard to consume harder products like granola bars.

This Week's Resources

  • New York Times: Guaranteed income in NYC 6 days old | 15 minutes long
  • The Counter: Bigger food banks 14 days old | 10 minutes long
  • The Counter: Food worker food insecurity 4 days old | 9 minutes long
  • World Bank: Global food security 1 month old | 10 minutes long

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The guaranteed income experiments just make cents!

Art Credit: Below the Fold

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