Food box idea draws criticism from Democrats, advocates

Juliet Linderman, Associated Press Updated 2:51 pm, Friday, February 16, 2018 Photo: Susan Walsh, AP Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 In this Feb. 13, 2018, photo, budget director Mick Mulvaney testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Trump administration is pushing a “bold new approach to nutrition assistance: ” Replacing the traditional cash on a card that food stamp recipients currently get with a pre-assembled box of canned foods and other shelf-stable goods dubbed “America’s Harvest Box.” Mulvaney likened the box to a meal kit delivery service, and said the plan could save nearly $130 billion over ten years. The idea, tucked into President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget, has caused a firestorm, prompting scathing criticism from Democrats and food insecurity experts who say its primary purpose is to punish the poor. less In this Feb. 13, 2018, photo, budget director Mick Mulvaney testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Trump administration is pushing a “bold new approach to nutrition ... more Photo: Susan Walsh, AP Food box idea draws criticism from Democrats, advocates 1 / 1 Back to Gallery WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is pushing what it calls a "bold new approach to nutrition assistance": replacing the traditional cash-on-a-card that food stamp recipients currently get with a pre-assembled box of canned foods and other shelf-stable goods dubbed "America's Harvest Box." Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney likened the box to meal kit delivery service Blue Apron, and said the plan could save nearly $130 billion over 10 years. But the idea, tucked into President Donald Trump's 2019 budget, has caused a firestorm, prompting Continue Reading

Trump proposes replacing food stamps with food boxes but hunger advocates not swallowing it

  For a time, Dave Miner, who works to end hunger, tried the Blue Apron service at home. While he liked the recipes, the home-delivered food in a box service was too expensive, so he canceled it.Now, the Trump Administration is proposing partly replacing food assistance to the poor with what it considers to be a comparable service, and anti-hunger advocates such as Miner aren’t swallowing it.Trump administration officials argue the “America’s Harvest Box” program would save money by allowing the government to buy food wholesale. Under the program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who receive more than $90 a month would get less discretionary money and instead would receive a box of nonperishable food items each month.Unlike upscale meal delivery services that emphasize fresh foods, the government boxes would include items such as shelf-life milk, peanut butter, and canned fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Urban farm: New east-side urban farm built to fight hunger Emergency food: More IMPD officers carrying emergency food bags in patrol cars More: Indiana to impose work requirement for some on Medicaid, get up to $240M for addiction The boxes are part of a plan to reduce the SNAP program by $17 billion next year and save more than $213 billion over the next decade.But critics say this move would raise far more problems than it would solve.“SNAP is a great program because it really is only used for food. Telling them what they need doesn’t seem like a solution to me,” said Kate Howe, managing director of the Indy Hunger Network. “I really think this is an ill-conceived idea…. The best way for people to get the food they want is to purchase it for themselves.”               In Indiana the Family and Social Services Administration oversees the SNAP program. Continue Reading

Eating fresh food is easier than you think

Eating fresh and healthy food doesn’t have to be hard. At a time when most people own a smart device that will grant them access to the internet, ordering fresh fruits and vegetables from a local grocery store can be as simple as clicking a mouse. There are other options, yet, including subscription bags filled with local produce can be delivered to your door. For example, Local Farm OK offers locally grown and made products that can be delivered to your home or office. The Tulsa company will celebrate its second anniversary in February, when it started offering a farm-to-home service. “We are farmers who wanted to deliver the farmers market to your doorstep,” said Ashley Neal, who owns Local Farm OK with her husband, Ben. “It’s a true local product. (Customers) are interested in knowing where their food comes from.” Deliveries include seasonal items such as strawberries in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, potatoes in the fall and grapefruit in the winter through partnerships with area growers. In addition to the subscription service, the Neals own Sage Farms, where they grow a variety of lettuces, Swiss chards and other vegetables. Ashley Neal added that the ongoing movement of wanting to know the farmers and people who grow the food that ends up on the dinner table has been a big push for their service. Area farmers markets also offer home cooks a variety of fresh produce and products, even through the winter months. From November to April, the Tulsa Farmers’ Market Winter Market occupies the Whole Foods Market parking lot at 1401 E. 41st St. from 8:30 to 11 a.m. every other Saturday. The next market is Jan. 13. “Right now, it’s pretty limited — with it being winter — to different greens available, and you can find squash and sweet potatoes,” said Kris Hutto, Tulsa Farmers’ Market administrator. The majority of the farmers market vendors are located about an hour out Continue Reading

Food delivery companies are now serving specialized niches in New York

Food delivery services are now as diverse as the New Yorkers who use them. Whether you’re vegan, follow a Paleolithic diet, are a pescetarian — or just plain picky — new companies are filling the niche. “Getting naturally sourced foods is also a big trend,” says Edlin Choi, founder of Eat Tribal, a year-old paleo delivery service. Eat Tribal caters to those following a diet based on what prehistoric man ate as hunter/gatherers, like grass-fed meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. “More and more people are getting in touch with a desire to eat in a particular way,” says Marisa Claire Smith of Sweet Roots NYC, a service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients for those cooking meals who are on specific diets — or who just distrust restaurant takeout. “There are hidden ingredients in takeout food,” Smith says. “You don’t know really what they’re doing behind the scenes.” Others are just taking to these specialty dropoff services out of sheer convenience and lack of time, and wanting to try something more specialized than Blue Apron or Plated’s standard-ingredient delivery services. “Some people don’t even care that it’s healthy food,” says Choi. “They just care that it’s not terrible for you and that it’s very easy.” If you have strict dietary restrictions or are just following the latest food fad, there’s likely a delivery service for you. Find your favorite. ---------------------------- Eat Tribal ( For: Paleolithic dieters and anyone who wants to avoid gluten, grain, dairy and soy. Founder Edlin Choi, 25, went paleo — following a caveman-like hunter/gatherer diet — five years ago and never looked back. But sourcing grass-fed beef and doing all of his own cooking was wearing him down. “It was so difficult to eat such a simple diet, Continue Reading

Community gardens grow tons of fresh food for the poor in Westchester, Rockland

Thanks to dozens of plots in community gardens scattered across the Lower Hudson Valley, patrons of local soup kitchens and food pantries will be enjoying tons of just-picked produce this year. Along with the expected boxes of cereal and jars of peanut butter, they can now look forward to just-picked collards, tomatoes, hot peppers and eggplants, even homegrown herbs like cilantro and basil.Through its Plant a Row for the Hungry program, People to People, Rockland’s largest food pantry, now collects between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of produce each year from community groups, home gardeners and local farms.Big contributors include Cropsey Farm in New City, the Rockland Farm Alliance, the Nyack Garden Club and ambitious home gardeners like Tom Brizzolara, public affairs director of Orange and Rockland Utilities, who regularly drops off several pounds of vegetables from his garden. “We call him the Zucchini King,” says Diane Serratore, executive director of People to People in Nanuet, which serves 1,400 families a month.“We really make an effort to get fresh produce to our families,” she says. “There are lots of hungry people out there and if there are new ways to put food on their table we’ll do it.”Every spring, summer and fall for the last 14 years, master gardener volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester have grown about 2,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and berries at the Demonstration Gardens at the Harts Brook Park and Preserve in Hartsdale. Every carrot, raspberry and cherry tomato goes to the pantry and soup kitchen at the women’s shelter at Grace Church in White Plains.“Before the end of the month, we’ll start delivering, and the last one is around Thanksgiving with greens, pumpkins, leeks and squash,” says garden co-chair Andrea Kish.They also use the planting beds to teach gardening basics to school and community groups and to test new vegetable varieties from year to Continue Reading

Local food fights for seat at table

I'll start by incriminating myself: I don't eat as locally as I'd like to.For breakfast today I had national brands of both tea and toast. At lunch, I ran to Whole Foods and paid $8 for a prepared meal. By dinner time, I will have thrown together some supermarket items, that may or may not be Colorado Proud. Fruit is not in season yet, but I'm in the mood for pineapple. Why not?Yet I live in a city with four farmers markets, 30 farms run by CSAs, one seven-day-a-week food co-op on the brink of a significant expansion, and a handful of restaurants that celebrate farm-to-table dinners and seasonal menus."It's easier to buy local than it's ever been," said Dawn Thilmany, an agribusiness economist with Colorado State University extension. "Even the big retailers and restaurants are noticing that that's something that consumers want to support."But in the midst of the largest local food resurgence in American history — the expanding of farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants — small Fort Collins farmers are struggling. As of the latest census, Larimer County farmers' direct-to-consumer sales are down.Comprehensive statistics on local food in Larimer County aren't available, but when Thilmany moved to Fort Collins in 1997, she found five farm CSAs serving the area. Now there are around 30 CSAs competing for the grocery dollars of a small but dedicated cohort of Fort Collins consumers. Some farmers sell out memberships while others are struggling to survive."It's a continuum, and buying local (food) can come in a lot of shapes and forms," Thilmany said of consumers' spending habits. "I think (farmers) in our area overestimated the number of people on that continuum who are committed enough to do a CSA." FARMERS MARKETS: A guide to Northern Colorado's farmer's marketsThilmany was one of a handful of researches cited in a January USDA local food report that showed that though more small farmers around the country are selling directly to consumers — Continue Reading

New meal delivery service may lead the ‘uberization’ of food

Forget going to a restaurant or tracking down a food truck. A new Downtown Indy kitchen delivers tacos, burgers, even pho via a high-tech system you could call the “uberization” of food.Indiana software mastermind Chris Baggott is behind Clustertruck, which launched March 29.The name cues a menu of fusion, American and international dishes that evoke the diversity available at food truck rallies. Think kimchi, short ribs and Thai basil tucked inside tacos or shrimp, andouille sausage and Gouda cheese on a Cajun pizza.Those are Clustertruck specialties, but the company also taps a rotating roster of recipes and training from well-known Indy brands. Expect Scratch truck, Bru Burger Bar and Goose the Market burgers and sandwiches.All prices will be competitive with those at restaurants and food trucks.Supplying fresh food quickly is the devil in food delivery. Baggott thinks Clustertruck software, plus custom food packaging and a tight delivery area — about a mile from Clustertruck’s kitchen at 729 N. Pennsylvania St. — will mean even french fries arrive hot and crispy.“It’s hard to keep a french fry fresh past about six minutes. But the reality is if you can get me french fries within four to five minutes, they’re going to be good,” Baggott said.Clustertruck works sort of like Uber, only delivery is free, no tipping required. Food orders and deliveries will be available from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. via the Clustertruck website that tracks the delivery person arriving by car, bike, scooter or foot. Customers know the exact minute their food will arrive. Clustertruck employs its own delivery team.Back at Clustertruck headquarters, cooks start monitoring timers as soon as an order lands. Touch-screen computers at each cooking station tell chefs what’s been ordered and how long until a delivery person appears for pickup.If the delivery person is 12 minutes away, and Continue Reading

Think hospital food stinks? Norton agrees

Hospital food tastes better at Norton Healthcare, where the Louisville hospital chain is the first to introduce organic, grass-fed hamburgers and first to prepare locally-farmed squash and other vegetables in cafeterias year round."We know that eating local is healthy for us. The main message is the journey to your plate is shorter," Norton Healthcare clinical nutritionist Erin Wiedmar said.The healthcare chain that just closed a longtime McDonald's to bring in the healthier Au Bon Pain restaurant this spring to Norton Children's Hospital "is in the midst of improving our food culture," Wiedmar added.That means Fridays in Norton's five hospital cafeterias now feature $4.99 Foxhollow Farm brand, grass-fed, four-ounce hamburgers. The conventional hamburger from beef fattened on genetically-modified corn is still sold for $2.85 in those dining halls.Some 85 percent of Norton cafeteria customers are hospital employees. For those employee customers, hospital patients, and their families, locally-grown food "just tastes better," said Gene Gruver, director of Norton's Food & Nutrition Department.  As the man in charge of five cafeterias serving thousands of meals a week, Gruver is procuring organic beef, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots via local, family-owned purveyors like Piazza Produce and Superior Meats in addition to the volume food deliveries from giant distributors the likes of Sysco and U.S. Foods."There is a lot going on with our health and the way we eat and a lot of diseases, like diabetes. I don’t want to be a part of that. And I don’t want to serve it," Gruver said Friday. ►RELATED: Millionaire investors bet on Kentucky farms ►SEE ALSO: Omni Hotel announces downtown grocery store plan As a result, Norton is gearing up to purchase up to 1,000 pounds weekly of vegetables from Louisville-area farmers throughout 2017. In their first Friday on the grill, Foxhollow Farm, grass-fed Continue Reading

Farmers markets, Fresh Direct have fruit and vegetables pouring into the Bronx

In a borough typically cited for its lack of access to fresh produce, fruits and vegetables abound with the onset of summer. The Bronx has more than 20 local farmers markets and Fresh Direct, a Manhattan luxury food delivery service, is offering groceries and produce to the entire South Bronx at a discount. Health experts say the benefits of the fresh produce are endless. "We've all heard ad-nauseum about the skyrocketing rates of diabetes, obesity and other diet-related diseases, and the farmers market is an enjoyable place to live a more healthy lifestyle," said Gabrielle Langholtz, spokeswoman for Greenmarket, a program of the Council on the Environment of New York City, which runs three markets in the Bronx. And through city funding for wireless card-swiping stations, the produce at most markets can be bought with food stamps. Even better, while supplies last, folks who use food stamps at the farmers markets are given an extra $2 in Health Department "Health Bucks" to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables for every $5 they spend. At Drew Gardens, on E. Tremont Ave., east of Boston Road, shoppers can go ultra-local and buy food grown in the Bronx, along with the produce from area farms. "The variety we sell at the market is not available for purchase in this community," said Jennifer Plewka, manager of Drew Gardens. "We sell traditional herbs from the Caribbean and Mexico grown in the garden here. Our prices are comparable to the supermarket, if not lower than the supermarket." Also, Fresh Direct is partnering with City Harvest to bring a catalogue of food at 20% off the prices it charges in Manhattan to 10 zip codes in the South Bronx. Residents who live in 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10459, 10460 and 10474, along with any institutional buyers, can pick up their groceries at the twice-monthly markets at NYCHA's Melrose Houses. "I once heard an author say so much of choosing a healthy life has to do with forgoing the things you want. But Continue Reading

David Chang’s delivery service launches Tuesday in Financial District

Restaurant delivery often means soggy salads, cold entrees and limp fried chicken. A new company wants change that by taking over the entire food delivery process from soup to nuts. Maple, backed by David Chang of the Momofuku restaurant empire, and $22 million in financing is opening a commissary kitchen in the Financial District Tuesday, the first of what they say will be a growing network of kitchens across the city. "I don't think there's ever been a focus on making delivered food fantastic, fast and delicious by top level talent," Chang told the Daily News. "There are so many great chefs who have revolutionized and accomplished great things in the restaurant world. Now, the next logical step is to share that talent by making great food for more people, for everyone." The app promises high quality lunches and dinners at a low price point — $12 for lunch and $15 for dinner. Opening its own kitchens rather than delivering food from existing restaurants will keep costs low and allow the company to control every facet of the process, from the tech infrastructure of the app to the creation of the menu and the system of delivery. "We felt strongly that the only way to really solve the delivery problem was to own the entire process from kitchen to table," Chang said. A limited menu of only three options for lunch and three for dinner, which rotate daily, will keep labor costs low and allow the company to buy high-quality ingredients in bulk. Real estate investment is cheaper than traditional restaurants because the kitchens don't need dining space and can be on side streets with no curb appeal. Co-founder Caleb Merkl compares his business model to Chipotle, saying that the fast-casual chain has about 40 locations below Central Park that serve 50,000 meals a day. He thinks Maple can reach eventually reach that same capacity with 10 to 12 commissary kitchens. The mix Continue Reading