The Annenberg Space For Photography Presents "Refugee"
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Everybody needs a few basics to survive, and access to food is at the top of that list. That’s why we were to excited to talk to Kristen Bell about a campaign that could improve access to healthy food for struggling families throughout the US. It’s time to get excited about this awesome idea, because basically if Kristen, is excited, we’re excited.

Thrive Market, an online food store that focuses on healthy and organic products, has started a petition to allow people to use food stamps to purchase food online. Under current US law, food stamps can’t be used online, preventing people from purchasing possibly cheaper food they need.

One of the biggest benefits to the program is that it would allow Americans living in food deserts, or places where fresh food is scarce and prices predatory, access to cheaper, healthier food. But that’s hardly the only benefit, as Kristen Bell passionately explained in our interview.

HG: We’re living in such a politically tumultuous, big headline era. Why is it also important to support smaller, focused initiatives like Thrive Market’s food stamp petition?

Kristen: I think it’s very easy to become headline obsessed and not look to the smaller issues or the more complex issues, or perhaps the issues that are not on our doorstep, scaring us daily. Because those issues are the ones that are much more difficult to solve when in fact the ones that could benefit from our focus as citizens, like this particular petition, could create a lot of healthy change for a lot of people with very little effort.

HG: What drew you to put your voice behind the campaign?


I’m very lucky to be able to purchase healthy foods for my family and not have to check the price. I believe that it should be the right of every American to purchase healthy food for their family. There’s not a single negative, not a single con to this campaign. It’s inarguable that everyone should be able to eat healthy food. It creates more energy during the day, kids can do their homework better, it creates less medical problems later in life…there’s nothing to argue about this campaign, it’s very cut and dry, it’s very simple, and I thought it was very deserving of a voice.

HG: What’s one important thing you think everyone should know about Thrive?

Kristen: That it’s a really really simple ask with no negatives. I can’t imagine looking at any other human in the United States and then giving me a reason why the USDA should not allow food stamps to be used online.

The vast majority of people on food stamps have internet access, it would make it unbelievably easier for them to get healthy foods for their families if they were allowed to use those food stamps online….I’m so proud of the fact that a for-profit business took a stand on an issue that was important to them. I think that’s kind of the the future of this country; it’s for-profit businesses doing good.

Because she is Kristen Bell and we had gotten this far in the interview without accidentally calling her Veronica Mars, we were feeling good and wanted to know more from the incredible actress/activist (actrivist??) So we asked her about what to do if you’re feeling like your voice or your work can’t make a difference. Of course, she had something pretty awesome to share.

HG: Our site is focused on female empowerment, because so many girls are raised to believe their voices don’t matter. What would you say to women to get them more involved in charity work and activism?

Kristen: Read beyond the headlines, always. We have become complacent in an age of truncated headline news. Very few issues are as cut and dry as a headline, there is always more information. And yes, it’s easier just to read the headline and tweet about it and not do any extra research, but if you want to be a better person, which I believe most people do: read beyond the headlines.

Take one topic you’re interested in, whether it’s buying healthy food with food stamps, or animal welfare, or advocating for foster care kids, or more available school lunches — anything that turns your heart on, look deeper into it, because your brain does have something to offer and your voice can be heard.

Kristen also recently posted a tweet that we adored!

When we asked about it, she was kind enough to expand on what she thought the best way was to make someone who might seem like an enemy into a friend.

Kristen: Genuinely, with an open mind, try to understand where they’re coming from. Apply critical thinking. Critical thinking allows you to take a path where you’re, much like on the debate time, looking to understand why the other side feels the way they feel. I have to do it every day, when I hear about people who are constantly talking about the enemy, or use the word refugees in a very, very negative context, or the word immigrant… I know in my heart we’re all immigrants, I’ve seen pictures of refugees who are women and children and babies who are just looking for a place to live their lives. I’m not scared of those people, I want to help them.

But what I can understand is that people who throw those terms around negatively are very scared. I can understand when people talk about “everybody’s coming to get us” I can see in their eyes that they’re genuinely scared that people are coming to get us. So my tactic wouldn’t be to say “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong!” My tactic would be to show them instances of how people are not coming to get us.

Open up the conversation to points that are not as black and white as evil and good. That every human on the earth is trying to survive. And of course, there are factions that primarily deal in the currency of evil, and we can all agree on that. But the vast majority of people just want to live safe and healthy lives with their family.

Um, Kristen Bell just basically became our life guru, guys.

Thrive’s petition to allow food stamps online still needs signatures, so get signing! As a reward, here’s a video of Veron —uh, Kristen Bell, herself, in which there may or may not be a sloth impression.

(Interview has been slightly condensed for clarity.)