Not a particularly novel idea to source basic staples in bulk for gov’d nutritional benefits – although ‘government cheese’ was as much about propping up dairy industry prices as providing sustenance. It would be an interesting way to deal with food deserts if people were allowed to opt into the service because it suited their needs.
The reality of selecting “basic staples”: anything you pick is going to make someone irate. Remember Palin attacking Michelle Obama for saying she tells her kids dessert isn’t a right & planting a vegetable garden? Until 2010, I didn’t realize that saying eating dessert at every lunch and dinner wasn’t ideal or that eating some fresh vegetables was contentious. I know now. Sure, the whole thing was a political stunt; but anyone want to proclaim society has gotten more reasonable in the intervening near-a-decade?
The biggest problem I have with this “money saving” proposal is that I don’t see it saving any money. It’s not like everyone can get the same box. Delivering fresh vegetables and meats presupposes I have a refrigerator/freezer and am dropping cash on the electricity to run it. I imagine we’re talking about shelf-stable foods (otherwise shipping in the Winter becomes a huge challenge – I did a free meal-delivery trial. In the MidWest. In Winter. Got a box full of frozen-solid ‘fresh’ food.).
There will need to be some mechanism for excluding items based on medical necessity (and a simple online account may not be viable). There’s an uproar if 95% of people claim to be severely allergic to lima beans and spinach, or excluding a food takes a medical approval (which requires a trip to the doctor, which it itself a PITA). And like disability or injury law – there’ll be doctors who sign off on all sorts of dodgy stuff. Or at least the perception thereof.
Even with some mechanism to avoid dropping peanut butter and tinned tuna into houses with allergies, I’m vegetarian. Or Kosher Jewish (religious discrimination!). Or whatever other deeply held dietary beliefs someone may have.
Now they’re delivering vegan boxes (against the huge objection of meat industry groups) that comply with Halal, Kosher, etc restrictions or there are a dozen different boxes and there’s a database indicating who gets what. Either way, some percentage of the boxes still need to be one-off packed to avoid non-common allergens (or comply with the religious belief of the dude who founds the Church of the Carnivore and cannot eat that vegan junk).
And that’s just the packing challenges. Just sourcing and delivering this food every (week, month?) is a whole other logistical nightmare. Do they source locally or take money from the local economy and source the food from single suppliers? And if they’re sourcing locally, can the gov’t really do so more efficiently than, say, the local supermarket chain?
The idea inevitably includes industry “lobbying” to have products included in the box. If Oprah cannot not like beef without getting sued, and the FDA food pyramid/plate/<geometric shape of the year> cannot be built without industry uproar … I doubt the box will fair any better. Plus the potential for free advertising. There are people at my daughter’s preschool who send rice krispy treats as a ‘healthy snack’ because, yeah, no idea. But would the government throw in crisps, candy, heavily processed anything … if the company offered it for free occasionally? And would people believe everything they get in their box to be healthy … because it’s coming in the gov’t healthy-food-for-your-family box?