The system of food stamps launched in Russia

2020-11-17

Food stamps returned to Russia. They look much more modern than in anti-Soviet films, but haven’t changed substantially. According to RIA Novosti, the “Food Stamp Charity Program” has started its work in three regions. Now one thousand families will be able to “stock up” food in special stores for 1000 rubles a month.

Food stamps on the eve of the USSR collapse

The program is still in pilot mode. Saint Petersburg, Rostov and Vladimir were selected for testing the technology. One thousand families, including single mothers, large families, families with disabled children, are meant to act as “guinea pigs” for this.

The new system of food stamps can be described as follows. Each family from the “pilot group” gets a card to which the charitable foundation transfers 1000 “bonuses” every month. In a certain chain of stores, these “bonuses” can be used to pay off when purchasing products at a one-to-one rate. Moreover, the number of food items that can be purchased for these “bonuses” is strictly limited. A message from the pro-governmental “Popular Front of Russia” (ONF), which has announced its support for the initiative, reads:

During the testing phase, families are only allowed to purchase food items included in the essentials basket. We are talking about such products as cereals, pasta, butter, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. The purchase of alcohol and tobacco products by the food stamps is prohibited.

Russians can purchase food stamps in the stores of the Magnit network. The validity period is limited: each family can use it for 3-6 months. It is not specified in the message of the ONF why such period was chosen and what will happen next.

It is interesting that help to those in need is provided not from the budget, but from donations from individuals and organizations. This is stated on the “PRODKarta” website. The main operator of the program is the “Rus’” food fund, which has been engaged in so-called “food sharing” (reception and redistribution of excess food) for several years. The president of the foundation, Yulia Nazarova, said in an interview that donation agreements are concluded with food suppliers. Of course, we are talking about expired food.

But even more interestingly, the public face of the Rus’ charitable foundation is Georgy Romanov – the one who calls himself “the grand duke” and “heir to the Russian imperial throne”. True, Mr. Romanov is the heir of Emperor Nicholas II only on his maternal side, and on his paternal side he is a descendant of the Hohenzollerns, the German imperial dynasty that was overthrown during the November Revolution of 1918. Romanov became the Chairman of the Management Board of the Rus’ Food Fund in October 2019.

Modern food stamps

According to the fund’s report for 2019, the organization received almost 6 million tons of food, and about 1.2 billion rubles were spent last year. The foundation has ambitious plans – expanding the number of participants to 2 million families. Thus, the prospect of creating a large-scale social assistance system, which at the same time will be private property. Given the limited nature of assistance, the selection of families in need can be manipulative.

And, of course, the main question remains unanswered. What kind of economy is built in Russia if it has spawned millions of families below the poverty line? What has our society become if problems can only be solved by food stamps? In the Soviet Union, cards were used only during the war and in the post-war period (just like in Europe), as well as on the eve of the collapse. And what about Russia? Are we facing war or the eve of collapse? ..