Saturday, June 23, 2007

House Subcommittee recommends keeping subsidy system

In disappointing news this week, a subcommittee of the House Ag. committee recommended Farm Bill reauthorization keep the current farm commodity payment system w/o change. This ignored calls to reform the bill to make it more effective in helping American farmers, rural citizens and farmers of developing nations forced into poverty by US subsidies.

On Tuesday, Bread for the World president David Beckman noted, "It is not a surprise that the committee failed to pass these reforms. Nearly 25% of all program commodity payments ($8.227 billion) go to these members' districts. Today's exercise is like having the fox build the henhouse." A small group of lawmakers pushed forward a decision in their political best interest and passed up an opportunity to alleviate poverty in their own constituencies and around the globe.

After July 4th, the Farm Bill will return to the full House Agriculture Committee for markup. This is where citizens have much influence to lead their leaders. It will now be up to every member of Congress to stand up for policy that can help those most in need.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mandatory Food Purchasing/Farm Bill Letter

A letter of mine that was published today in the Morton Grove Champion regarding how Farm Bill can better help food pantries. This is not necessarily Bread for the World's goals, but rather something the good people at the Greater Chicago Food Depository are pushing for.
Thanks for spotlight on needs of hungry

Thank you for providing coverage about the needs of hungry people in your May 31 issue. It was fitting to see articles regarding “summer hunger” at the beginning of June, which is Hunger Awareness Month. Individual donations will help fight this phenomenon, but strong assistance can come from a change in the Farm Bill currently under reassessment in the House and Senate Agriculture committees. Food pantries rely heavily on bonus commodities- surplus crops bought by the government to assist farmers when prices are low. However, when prices are stable and farmers don’t need such aid, bonus commodities are not available and more people go hungry. Illinois Sens. Barak Obama and Richard Durbin as well as Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-9th, can help by supporting an increase in mandatory food purchasing for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to create a more robust aid system.

Printed in the Morton Grove Champion 6-21-07

House State/Foreign Operations Bill today

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote TODAY on the State/Foreign Operations bill (HR 2764) for fiscal year 2008. Yesterday, Bread for the World held a call-in day to call our representatives. The message was to support the bill and oppose any amendments to cut poverty-focused development assistance.

-The funding in this bill is critical to meeting our country's commitments to hungry and poor people around the world.

-The U.S. devotes less than one-half of one percent of its budget to poverty-focused development assistance.

-Poverty-focused development assistance includes vital cost-effective programs that provide nutrition, clean water, health care and basic education so that families can build a better life for their children. I believe we should be doing more to improve the health, nutrition, and opportunity of people around the world.

-Amendments are being planned to cut these important resources.

Sorry this was a little late. I'll try to put call-in day stuff up ahead of time. Hey! It's a new thing! I'm working on it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Got to be starting something...

Well, this is it. After months of ignoring the "blogosphere" just because the word sounded too dumb to contemplate, now I find myself in it. Considering that I keep track of the "Buffyverse," I guess I have no room to be critical...

At the suggestion of some respected friends, I'm creating this space to be another avenue for my hunger/poverty work. After attending the national Bread for the World gathering, it became very apparent that I'm becoming a global citizen and the internet is the most powerful tool I have to keep connected with my colleagues as close as Evanston and as far away as Zambia.

So here we go!

For lack of anything else top of mind to post, I'll put my very first printed Letter to the Editor. Here it is!

Thanks to Schakowsky for taking 'food stamp challenge'

Kudos to Representative Jan Schakowsky, D-9th, for her participation in the Food Stamp Challenge! For one week, she lived on an average food stamp budget- just $3 a day. This timely gesture comes as the House Agriculture Committee is working on the Farm Bill, the legislation governing our Food Stamp program. Food stamps are our nation's first line of defense against hunger. Unfortunately, many recipients simply cannot make them last to the end of the month – even if they purchase only cheap, processed foods instead of the nutritious, fresh foods all of us need to stay healthy. Our food stamp program should be strengthened and expanded to help provide those in need with a reasonable nutrition level and assist their rise to self-sufficiency. Thanks, Ms. Schakowsky, for showing your leadership on this issue of hunger and social justice!

Printed in the Morton Grove Champion 5-24-07