US (PA): LED manufacturer to support food stamp concept

Independence LED Lighting is “shovel ready” for a pilot program in Philadelphia to support proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), included in the President’s Budget FY 2019. On Monday, February 12, 2018, the White House unveiled the updated budget which has a path to include “American grown foods provided directly to households.” The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said that the administration’s plan would not only save the government money, but also provide people with more nutritious food than they have now.

The concept of an “America’s Harvest Box,” delivered each month as part of the SNAP program, is based on volume purchasing to reduce unit costs. More than 16 million American households currently receive some form of assistance though SNAP. Individually, they do not have the buying power that would come with government volume purchases. The logistics of the proposed program are naturally very complicated, and detractors should not dismiss the idea outright. With economies of scale, SNAP recipients could receive more nutritious food at lower costs.

“Cost-effective change involves challenging the status quo, and we are pleased to leverage our American made technology to launch a pilot project that will demonstrate the benefits of next-generation ‘Future Food’ for SNAP recipients”, says Charlie Szoradi, Independence LED Lighting, Chairman and CEO.

American innovation
Independence LED Lighting is one of the first authentic Buy American Act (BAA) Compliant LED lighting manufacturers. Since moving its production from China to southeastern Pennsylvania in 2010, the company has provided its U.S. made light-emitting diode (LED) technology across the public and private sector. Building owners and managers typically save 50% or more on electricity, and Independence LED Lighting also has developed advanced LED grow lights to optimize indoor farming. In conjunction with indoor farm partners, the company produces vegetables at lower costs than Americans pay at grocery stores. By adjusting the light wavelengths of its LEDs, the company can enhance growth by plant type and optimize Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPDF).

After more than two years of Research and Development (R&D), on Tuesday November 28, 2017, the first consumer received, via overnight mail, the first delivery of live microgreens at 20% below grocery store cost, including the shipping cost.

Local delivery would replace overnight shipping for the majority of the SNAP program, given that one or more indoor farms would be in or near each major U.S. city. In addition to the food and cost advantages for the government and SNAP recipients, American manufacturing, indoor farming, and produce delivery all help create more job opportunities for SNAP recipients.

Pilot concept
Imagine that there is not necessarily just one “American Harvest Box” for each family each month, but multiple drop-shipments from a coalition of private sector companies. The participating companies provide “farm-direct” and “factory-direct” food to the families. Perishable vegetables are not referenced as part of the “box” concept in the budget, but many SNAP families live in neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. These “food deserts” are a health challenge for Americans.

Independence LED Lighting envisions starting with an indoor farm pilot program in Philadelphia and then rolling out to each major metropolitan market. Local indoor farms reduce transportation costs.

For the pilot program, Independence LED Lighting will use veggie drop-off days as opportunities to share health tips and recipes. The program will also train SNAP recipients for new jobs, build a youth mentor program for next-generation “ambassadors” of healthy living, and provide reports on performance metrics. The intended outcome is lower cost food, healthier food, engaged members of the community, and measurable results.

For more information:
Independence LED Lighting
T: 484.588.5401
F: 267.295.8459

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