Food & Justice News Feb 18, 2020
- Nine in Congress Respond to Trump Budget Proposal Slashing SNAP
- “What’s Eating America” MSNBC Series Examines Food Issues
- Comments Due March 23: Trump Proposal Would Weaken Standards for School Lunches: Or, “More Pizza, Less Vegetables”
- California Poor People’s Campaign Presents We Cried Power, Saturday, Feb 22
Nine in Congress Respond to Trump Budget Proposal Slashing SNAP
While the Food Stamp program, known since 2009 as the SNAP program, has been the target of derision from conservative quarters of the US for decades, it’s a testament to SNAP’s effectiveness that no fewer than nine members of Congress grew up with families that depended on the program to meet their food needs for at least part of the time. And when President Trump just released a multi trillion dollar budget that calls for $15 billion in cuts to SNAP beginning in 2021 (about 20% of the current spending on the program), one Senator and eight Representatives penned a letter to the President informing him that he’s off base. For the program to graduate nine people who later became legislators is proof that it’s a component of the American dream, not its antithesis, giving a boost to folks who have the innate talent and do the hard work that it takes to run for office, win the trust of their constituents, and become part of the management of the third largest country on Planet Earth.
The letter from the nine is a prime example of speaking truth to power, remembering “where you came from”, and of sharing life experience with lawmakers, from people who are lawmakers now themselves. This is why hundreds of grassroots activists flock to capitols including Sacramento and DC every year, to speak to their legislators about something most have not experienced---poverty deep enough to qualify for SNAP’s stringent requirements. These nine could have hidden or brushed aside the experience of potentially going without food, now that they are successful. But on behalf of the 36 million Americans living what they went through as kids, they’ve made it clear to the President that this is a program that works. It kept them from going hungry as children and they want no less for current residents of the United States.
While we hear a lot about how great the economy has been for the past three years, we rarely hear in depth statistics. Yes there are a lot of jobs, but how people have more than one of those jobs and still not enough money to guarantee adequate food? Apparently at least 36 million in the US still can use the help.
From the Reuters article linked below: “Asking the administration to “remove all intended cuts” to the program, the lawmakers said in their letter: “We are writing today on behalf of the over 36 million American families who currently depend on SNAP, like ours once did, to make ends meet and help the next generation achieve upward mobility.”
It was signed by Senator Patty Murray and eight House members: Raja Krishnamoorthi, Barbara Lee, Robin Kelly, Rashida Tlaib, Salud Carbajal, Jahana Hayes, Gwen Moore and Alma Adams.”
Lee and Carbajal are representatives from California.
Note that these $15 billion of cuts are in addition to eligibility restrictions already proposed by the Trump administration over the past year that could impact around 700,000 people.
“What’s Eating America” MSNBC Series Examines Food Issues
MSNBC has created a five part TV series with celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern looking at the big picture of food in America, and how it interacts with other large issues. The first episode aired Sunday night Feb. 16 and looked at how the food industry is looped into a knot with immigration to this country; thousands of migrant workers pick the produce that fills the plates of millions of Americans daily, and both documented and undocumented workers at food trucks, cafes, diners and fancy restaurants prepare the breakfast lunch and dinner of working folks and connoisseurs of fine cuisine alike. Interviews reveal the deep economic and social impact on all of Americans of the amped-up ICE raids, detention camps, arrests, and threats that have characterized the Trump administration (and occurred with far less publicity under the Obama administration.)
From the MSNBC site: “In each episode, Andrew Zimmern travels the country to see first-hand the impact these critical issues– immigration, climate change, addiction, voting rights and healthcare– have on food and the everyday lives of Americans. What’s Eating America premieres Sunday, February 16 at 9PM ET on MSNBC with a special two-hour long episode featuring fellow award-winning chef and humanitarian José Andrés.”
Comments Due March 23: Trump Proposal Would Weaken Standards for School Lunches: Or, “More Pizza, Less Vegetables”
From the Guardian: “The Trump administration took further steps on Friday towards rolling back healthier standards for school lunches in America championed by Michelle Obama, proposing rules to allow more pizza, meat and potatoes over fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The new proposals would allow schools more flexibility, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement, adding: “Because they know their children best.”
One of the reasons for this is the potato lobby. Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, “says the potato lobby has been pushing for this change, and that the potato industry was behind a change that happened quietly last March. The USDA allowed school food authorities participating in the School Breakfast Program to substitute potatoes in place of fruit without including vegetables from other subgroups in the weekly menus.”
This rollback of healthy food standards comes at a time when record numbers of adolescents are living with prediabetes and toddlers are dealing with obesity. The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed school meal changes,. See the link below:
California Poor People’s Campaign Presents We Cried Power, Saturday, Feb 22
Join us for a preview screening of the new documentary We Cried Power about the Poor People’s Campaign: a National Call for Moral Revival, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When: Saturday, Feb 22nd, 1 pm
Where: SEIU Local 721, 1545 Wilshire Blvd, LA 90017 in the basement auditorium
$20 Suggested donation: No one turned away for lack of funds
Organized by the Poor People’s Campaign Los Angeles Supporters