United Ways of California

Time to Amazon California’s Food Supply

California’s elites have seized on Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods with a demand of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “revolutionize the nation’s food system” by demanding that its food come from local organic farmers and ranchers, with the goal that food “can never be cheap.”


The big question that the rest of us, non-elite, have to ask: How much of a dent in our wallet will this “food revolution” cause?

To answer that question, Alice Waters, a Bay Area chef who brought seasonal and organic food to her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, recently told the Washington Post, “People [need to] understand that food can be affordable, but it can never be cheap.” Waters then went on to talk about having shoppers pay $28 for an organic chicken.

The current average price for a whole chicken at Costco, Safeway, and WinCo Foods is around $8.50 – $13.00.

The food snobs like Waters don’t seem to understand that not everyone can afford to pay $28 for a whole chicken. The same goes for our fruits and vegetables.

The goal should be to make all food readily available for everyone. This includes our middle and working class communities that live in urban and rural areas that may not have easy access to grocery stores.

In California alone, it is estimated that more than a million people live in food deserts, meaning that they do not have easy access to a grocery store.


A few years ago, national and regional grocers worked together with First Lady Michelle Obama “to bring fresh foods to impoverished neighborhoods by opening and expanding more than 1,500 U.S. grocery stores in those [food desert] areas.” Also, “In California, a $200-million California FreshWorks Fund will provide financing at or below market rates to encourage grocers to set up shop in under-served communities.”

In 2015, United Ways of California issued a report, Struggling to Get By, where they found that 31% of California households did not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. That includes 51% of Latino households and 40% of African American households. In addition, just over half of all California households with children under the age of six fall below the Real Cost Measure.


If people want to pay $75 at Chez Panisse for some sheep’s-milk ricotta and amaranth greens ravioli with basil and a grilled duck breast, it is their decision. But most Californians are living paycheck to paycheck and are just struggling to get by.

As Amazon revamps our food delivery system, it should devote itself to making fresh produce available for all – not designer organic food that only the Alice Waters types can afford.

A Lesson for California – Mexico in Peril over Increased Gas Prices

As Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government increased gas prices by 30 cents a gallon on New Year’s Day, the Mexican people took to the streets in protest, blocking roads, burning debris, blocking gasoline service stations and waving banners asking for Peña Neito to resign.

15875420_247888952299413_3764069142877100496_o

The gasolinazo – the gasoline price hike – prompted taxi cab drivers, truckers, agricultural workers and other irate citizens to block the main highways into Mexico City this past week.

“Outside one gas station in the centre of the captial, Manuel López, a mechanic, stood defiantly in front of the pumps. Ironically, López does not own a car – he sold it because of Mexico’s ongoing economic downturn – but he said the size and shock of the gasolinazo had sent him into the streets.

‘It’s an economic issue,’ said López, 24. ‘Salaries are not very good. If gasoline goes up, it provokes an inflation in the cost of the items we consume daily,’ he added, reciting a list of common complaints among Mexicans. ‘The first thing that gets hit are people’s pocketbooks.’”

As the gazolinazo takes center stage in Mexico, in their northern neighbor of California, several Democrat legislators have introduced their own gas tax proposal that could drive the current gasoline tax of 58.83 cents to 70.83 cents per gallon.

Like clockwork, Democrats introduce a handful of gas tax measures like Senate Bill 350 and oil severance, while the California Air Resources Board (a government agency appointed by Governor Jerry Brown) is looking at its own set of gas-hike proposals.

Since the Great Recession, California’s economy has been growing. Unemployment is down, more than two million have been created in a six-year span, but this recovery hasn’t been shared equally by all. As Dan Walters of The Sacramento Bee recently noted, “The technology-heavy San Francisco Bay Area has almost single-handedly lifted California’s economy and while other regions are better off than they were during the depths of the recession, their recoveries have been more sluggish. The question hanging over the state, therefore, is whether technology can continue to buoy its economy, or whether another recession is just waiting to happen.”

8-26-14-brown-kdl-el_presidente

A 2015 report by United Ways of California, Struggling to Get By, noted, “One in three California households (31%) do not have sufficient income to meet their basic costs of living. This is three times the proportion officially considered poor in California, according to the Federal Poverty Level that averages low cost-of-living states with those that have higher cost-of-living, such as California.

Households led by people of color are disproportionately likely to have incomes too low to make up the difference. State statistics show 51% of Latino households and 40% of African-American households have incomes below the Real Cost Measure. They are followed by Asian-American households (28%) and Caucasian households (20%).”

Even with the two million new jobs — with the largest gains made in low-paying restaurant, hotel and retail industries — and a slowly rebounding economy, will California Democrats follow the lead of Mexican President Enrique Peña Neito and create our own regressive gasolinazo to unfairly punish the poor?