Food for the Hungry, (FH), an international non-profit with its headquarters right here in Phoenix, AZ, offers a monetary benefit for their bicycle riders and public transportation users. This can be used for bike-related and transit expenses to provide financial assistance to people who use these transportation options.
“We decided to enact the bike benefit program when Washington DC passed a law requiring all businesses to provide financial assistance to their employees for commuting using alternative transportation,” said FH’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer Barry Gardner. The company implemented the program in its Nashville and Phoenix offices to make them consistent with the program it offers in Washington DC. FH began the program in January 2016.
Employees can decide on a monthly basis whether to use the mass transit or the bike commute reimbursement. By federal law, they may not receive benefits for both within the same month. The mass transit benefit is $130 a month, and the bike benefit is $20 a month. The bike reimbursement must be for the bike only, so it can’t be used for accessories like helmets.
Currently, most people would have bike commuted anyway. Senior Coordinator of Education Programs Mitzi Hanold in Washington DC has done this for 10 years and says it provides “great exercise, doesn’t require a gym membership, and gives fresh air and a good detox after a long day at work.”
Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Lucas Koch in DC, appreciates the benefit but notes the program’s inequality. “I can’t recall the exact numbers, but non-bike commuters get monthly close to what we get for the whole year,” he says. “We incur significant housing costs to live close enough to be able to bike to the downtown business district. At a 7 mile radius bike commute, it is the fastest, most reliable way to and from the city during rush hour.”
While this bike benefit may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction and furthermore, rare. FH is a leader in its field, and other nonprofits and businesses should follow its example.