Europe's Social Security

The Lempert Report
March 28, 2023

In Europe there's a beta test in two cities that think of it as social security for food. 

Phil: Basically what they're trying to do is feed obviously people who can't afford food. It's in France and in Brussels, and they have only food products that meet certain certifications, such as organic, fair trade for farmers and workers, short supply chains. Those are the only only foods that you can buy. And basically every citizen receives a monthly allowance that enables them to buy food that meet certain environmental and ethical criteria. it's testing right now in these two cities. They're gonna expand it to other cities as well. And again, I think this is a really cool idea. What do you think, Sally? 

Sally: I think this is an interesting program, and I'm very excited to see after 12 months, what the assessment of how it worked and, you know, if people liked the program, if people liked giving money to the program because it's set up two different ways and, I believe in Belgium, there is a required amount that citizens give. As in like a tax form to the program. In France, the program is voluntary. So you have to give at least a dollar, but you can give anywhere from a dollar to a $1.50 to the program. But everyone gets to receive this money every month. And what I do love about it is that it is going to, certain types of products that might normally be out of reach for people who have food, food insecurity that can't afford these fresh foods or these organic foods or these fair trade foods, these foods that support our environment and support our communities. 

Phil: And back on this side of the pond in North Carolina, blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina have launched a six month food delivery and health coaching pilot program, among low income members with type two diabetes. As a proof of concept, participants receive $60 in groceries delivered to their home twice a month. And what they have found so far is when for those people who have complete participation in the program, they have reduced healthcare costs by $139 per member per month, and an increase of $8 in pharmacy costs. And they say that's the reason it's going up is there's greater medication adherence. So it's educating people, feeding people, and changing behaviors, which is what it's all about. 

Sally: Yes. And we have been talking about testing out food as medicine in this country now for a while and seeing great results in programs like this, this program is showing results that, you know, that they're decreasing food insecurity, but they're also seeing an increase in physical health and mental health and obesity rates actually going down in those that are receiving these, this fresh, healthy food. 

Phil: Yeah. We all, all have to work on this together. If we're gonna solve, our, our impending health disasters, that are gonna come up, especially as it relates to the quality of food and processed food, that people are eating.