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Would using food stamps online close the health food gap?


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Photo: Thinkstock/jupiterimages

Even though Americans are eating healthier now more than ever, the fact that lower-income earners’ eating habits have not improved as much as their higher-earning counterparts has been making headlines. Dubbed “the health food gap,” the way Americans eat has become divided. It’s a political, socioeconomic issue that remains to be resolved.

While there is no easy solution, Thrive Market, which made headlines today for raising over $111 million in a new round of financing, is taking a stand by launching a petition to the Department of Agriculture to bring food stamps online.

“There are 46 million Americans on food stamps—that’s nearly one in seven of us,” Gunnar Lovelace, co-founder and co-CEO of Thrive Market tells Well+Good. “One in five American children rely on food stamp assistance. Unfortunately, those living in low-income areas often have disproportionately limited access to healthy food, and those receiving food stamp assistance still cannot use their food stamps online to buy healthy food.”

“One in five American children rely on food stamp assistance.”

To Lovelace, the petition, which launched today, is directly aligned with Thrive Market’s mission, which is to make healthy food accessible to everyone. “For each membership purchased, we give one away to a family in need through our Giving Program,” he explains. “Many families in our Giving Program rely on food stamps but cannot use them online to buy healthy food.”

For him, it’s personal as well as professional. “Having grown up very poor with a single mom and as a Latino immigrant, I’ve wanted to do something about limited access to healthy foods my whole life,” he says.

While you may think anyone with access to a grocery store has the option of buying healthy foods, that isn’t always the case. According to the USDA, 23.5 million low-income Americans live more than a mile away from a large grocery store. Considering that only 30 percent of low-income Americans have access to a car—but 74 percent have internet access—being able to buy healthy food online using food stamps could make a huge difference.

Convinced? Click here to sign the petition. “Healthy food shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthiest members of society,” Lovelace says. “Healthy food should be accessible to all, and we’re asking the USDA to help make that possible.”

Another big change happening you should know about? A new food bill could save everyone $1,500 a year. But if you’re looking for ways to save money right now, here’s why you should consider doing a little decluttering.