Soylent and Food Stamps (EBT)


#1

A lot of the people who stand to benefit the most from Soylent are those on the lower end of the economic spectrum who survive on government provided food stamps. The laws governing what you can and can not purchase with food stamps very from state to state and are quite arbitrary, but it would be wonderful if Soylent could be purchased using food stamps.

At least in California, the rules are bizarre. The hot vs cold rule makes sense, like why buy a cooked hamburger which costs $5 when you can buy the cold meat and prepare it for much less, saving you and the government money. But you can buy many things which although are not “hot” have no nutritional value. You can go into a convenience store and purchase breath mints and a slurpee with food stamps. Or candy bars. As long as it’s not “served warm”.

I just think it would be great if Rob created the means to purchase Soylent with food stamps. Usually recipients are given an EBT card that is just like a credit/debit card, so I think it would be easy to implement.

Most supplements you can not buy with food stamps, however there are some exceptions that have to do with the way the product is labeled. For example the Target brand whey protein’s back label says “Nutritional Facts” instead of “Supplement Facts” so you can actually buy that particular container of whey protein with food stamps. Soylent could be registered in such a way.

Sorry this is kinda long winded.

Edit: Is there anyone on this forum who has the means to contact Rob or anyone else at Soylent Corp to suggest this? I feel like it’s worth bringing to their attention if they haven’t considered it already.

@rob


FDA Press officer comment
#2

I’m actually on food stamps (I live in Oregon) and it’s really hard to get things to be able to be purchased with them, if my understanding is correct. Sorry if that didn’t make a lot of sense, it was worded really weirdly. But yeah, you can’t buy supplements or anything, like you mentioned, and unfortunately…I’m pretty sure Soylent would be considered a supplement. You can’t buy meal replacements either, I don’t think. I’ve never tried though, so I could be wrong. The thing that bugs me most about the hot/cold thing (okay well, a lot of things bug me about it, this is just one of them) is that you can buy a burrito at a convenience store and then heat it up and eat it, as most convenience stores have microwaves. But if you heat it up first, you can’t buy it on food stamps. I just think it’s a stupid, arbitrary rule. Also the most you can get with food stamps for one person is only two hundred dollars, and a lot of people get less than that. Soylent would almost wipe that out completely (and at the prices it’s currently being sold, you couldn’t even get a month’s worth) so…eh.
TL;DR: I like this idea a lot, I just am not sure how feasible it is.


#3

I know you can buy Ensure and similar products with food stamps, and as I said some supplements like the Target brand whey protein can be bought. It’s all about the labeling. It would just be up to Rob and the guys to make sure the label says “Nutrition Facts”, like Ensure does.

I feel like bringing up supplements was a bit of a distraction on my part because really, Soylent has far more in common with Ensure and baby formula, both things you can buy with food stamps, than it does with supplements. You can’t sustain off Green Vibrance or Protein Powder. Soylent you can.

Don’t want to beat a dead horse but, this could really, really help a lot of people strapped for cash. Vons, Safeway and other large grocery store chains already have ways to buy their goods online with food stamps so there is a way, and it’s probably not that difficult. Tens of thousands of products are EBT approved from lollipops to microwave burritos made south of the border and if all those companies can pull it off, surely Soylent Corp can as well. I mean, you can literally buy whipped cream and relish with EBT.

Just a simple option in Soylent’s online checkout to use your EBT card. Totally feasible, and would make a huge impact.

Stoked to see how large this movement has gotten so fast, I only wish this could somehow get to Rob. Can one of the admins possibly forward this to him?

This is kinda personal for me, my cousin is on food stamps and has diabetes and I think it would be so awesome if she could purchase it in this way.


#4

The “nutrition facts” label isn’t fool proof though. There are some things that say that (for example, some energy drinks) that you can’t buy. You can buy some (that say nutrition facts), but not others, even though they have the same label.
You can’t even buy all baby formula though. My friend’s baby needs a special formula that’s two or three times as expensive as regular formula and she can’t get it with her stamps.
However, if this managed to work somehow, I would be ecstatic and I’m sure a lot of other people would too. I much prefer spending my stamps on food instead of cash, but I also feel like Soylent could possibly change my life.
I think if you tag Rob in it somehow, he might have a better chance of seeing it? I’m not sure.


#5

That is so irritating that your friend can’t get the baby formula she needs, but all of the junk with corn syrup in it with no nutritional value can be purchased so easily. I feel for your friend, that is awful. :frowning:

I added a tag for Rob on the first post. Thank you for the recommendation!


#6

Really? This doesn’t make much sense.


#7

What doesn’t, exactly? (Sorry, I’m unsure if you’re responding to what he said or the fact that my friend can’t buy the baby formula she needs.)


#8

The fact that she can’t buy the baby formula. Aren’t food stamps designed to keep people from starving?

I don’t know much about it though.


#9

I’ve always hoped they would market the product in a “Tom’s Shoes” style where the main contributions also contributed to a group pool of available soylent for world hunger. Obviously a lot of details would need working out but I’d feel great about buying my soylent and contributing at the same time, since it’s one of the main reasons I think this idea is cool.


#10

This is an excellent idea and something I thought about almost from the very beginning. The biggest problem I saw was I could not find a way to accept EBT over the web, meaning it would have to wait until we were distributed in to brick & mortar stores.

When this time comes we will make sure soylent is purchasable with EBT.


#11

Rob thank you so much for thinking about this from the beginning. You rule man


#12

How much do you think you’ll be selling it for at that point? Because as I said earlier in this topic, most people can only get two hundred dollars for a month. And this is, of course, assuming that they don’t have to customize anything about Soylent–use more protein or carbs or oil or what have you…it’s still basically unattainable at the price it’s being sold now.
(actually the only reason i can even afford to try to embark on this right now is because i bailed a friend out of jail recently so i should be getting that money back. other than that, i have no “real” income.)


#13

@jacob The price in the soylent campaign is NOT the final price but in fact the price for a month of soylent and a donation to the company so the price will be able to come down with bulk buys for future purchases.

TL:DR
The Price is higher than the final one.


#14

I think the main issue with being a supplement rather than “nutrition” is the people who police you. As I understand it, supplement laws are pretty lax as they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA.

http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194344.htm

That’s why buying vitamins can be such a crapshoot. They’re not very well regulated. Such is the impression I get, anyway.


#15

No, I know this, that’s why I was asking how much it’ll be sold for at that point in time.


#16

Earlier reports indicate that the price is probably going to be somewhere around 150 to 170 dollars a month but this was a while ago so i could have changed but expect it to be around 5$ a day.


#17

I am working on food stamp friendly Soylent recipes. This is an entirely open source project, so my recipes will be freely available and transparent (I am even going to release all of the documentation regarding all of the ingredients and list sources for where I got my various data). I just posted an introduction to my project at http://makeshifttechnology.blogspot.com/2013/08/soylent-introduction.html I will be posting all of my recipes there as well, after testing. (I tested one yesterday, I am testing another today, I will test my third tomorrow, and my fourth Wednesday. So far the only issue has been slightly low, but stable, blood sugar, but this is easily remedied.)

I am on Idaho food stamps, and so far have purchased every ingredient on food stamps. Most of my ingredients are available at Walmart and/or Sam’s Club. Those which may not be are from Bob’s Red Mill, which is fairly widely available at other grocery stores.

I will be posting documentation next Friday, and hopefully I will be posting at least one recipe, including the nutritional information for that recipe, by Saturday (I currently have 4 recipes which I am testing; I plan to post all 4 at the end of the week).

If there is sufficient interest, I may also publish a small cookbook of recipes on lulu.com, once I have more recipes.

Oh, with local Idaho prices, my cheapest recipe runs about $1.38 a meal. This is with most ingredients bought in retail sized packages, but 3 spices/herbs bought in bulk (from WinCo and Sam’s Club). If some of the other ingredients can be found in bulk, it may be possible to reduce the price to $1.10 or even $1.00 a meal.


#18

Sounds promising! Thank you for the heads up and for your contributions


#19

Just a heads up, I just finished posting all of the recipes I currently have. Also, I posted a Documentation post which contains some useful information as well as my sources for nutritional information and some other things (for instance, I found some research showing that cinnamon may be useful for treating pre-diabetes and even milder type 2 diabetes). (See my above post for the link to the soylent introduction page on my blog. It should be easy to naviate to the recipes and documentation from there.)

I’ll try to put together an index post for all of soylent posts on my blog (cannot promise when though).


#20

Your project sounds interesting. Wondering if you’ve gotten around to that index post you mentioned…

Cheers!