Saturday, December 22, 2007

How you can help fight hunger in the Chicago area

From the Greater Chicago Food Depository...
Help us fill our shelves
The shelves at the Greater Chicago Food Depository and those of its member pantries are emptier than usual this holiday season. A steep drop-off in food commodities from the federal government has made it more difficult for pantries to serve the hungry men, women and children of our community. In addition, donations of salvage products—the dented cans and damaged boxes—have dipped by 42 percent since 2004. Meantime, increasing numbers of people are turning to pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in Cook County. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Washington Post, food banks nationwide are being affected by similar issues.

The Food Depository’s response
The Food Depository is purchasing an additional 3 million pounds of food to help offset the downturn in federal government commodities. We also have been advocating strongly for a new Farm Bill, which determines the funding levels for nutrition programs for the next five years. The Farm Bill passed the U.S. Senate on Dec. 14.

How you can help
Our new One City, One Food Drive effort makes it easy for everyone in our community to donate cans of food at area Dominick’s stores and other locations. Nonperishable food donations are vital to our member pantries across Cook County. Your donations mean more now than ever before. Every one can of food will make a difference for a hungry person in the Chicago area.

Visit, our One City, One Food Drive microsite.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Obama talks the talk, but didn't walk the walk

Some Obama quotes from Iowa this week as reported by Mike Glover (Associated Press):

"Once again the lobbyists stepped in to make sure that big agribusinesses got the multimillion-dollar giveaways that they've come to count on," said Obama.

"Tom Harkin fought hard to pass a farm bill that stressed support for conservation and support for specialty growers," Obama said, contending the effort was deflected by the power of the agribusiness lobby.

"While the farm bill is a step in the right direction, I am disappointed that those who blocked payment limitations chose to put big agribusiness ahead of family farmers," Obama said. He said he "will continue to fight for meaningful payment limitations."

Amen to all of that, Mr. Obama. Nice speech. But where were you when you could have been making a difference??? We know you voted for Grassley-Dorgan, but you were gone (back making speeches in Iowa) for every other reform amendment that was offered. You even missed the final vote and stated that you would not have voted for Lugar-Lautenberg. I'm wondering how you will "continue to fight" when apparently casting your vote was not one of the methods you liberally employed. I was kinda thinking I'd like you to be my president, but last week... you weren't doing that great of a job being my senator.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poverty persists in Niles Township

I recently met the very nice and hardworking director of the NIles Food Pantry, Cynthia Carranza. She would like everyone to know about the persistence of poverty in this area despite the affluence around us. Here is a piece from the NIles township government website:


People are surprised to learn that even in our “affluent” communities there are many people, young, elderly and in-between, who do not have the resources to feed themselves or their families adequately. That is why the Niles Township Food Pantry exists – to aid those who need food, especially on an emergency basis. We want to make sure that every person has the food they need to sustain themselves, so we are always seeking donations to help the over 1,500 individuals who use our pantry every month.

Due to federal government cutbacks, we are receiving less food to distribute.

That is why we are always grateful to receive donations of the following items: turkeys, hams, roasting chickens, canned fruit, bottled or canned juice, small jars of jelly, macaroni & cheese, peanut butter, canned soups, boxed pasta dishes, pasta, boxed rice dishes, mixed vegetables, canned tuna, stuffing mix, small jars of mayonnaise, small cans of coffee, small boxes of tea, crackers, packaged cookies, gravy (dry or liquid), pie shells (dry or frozen), pie fillings, and cake mixes.

We are also asking for donations of personal care items. Often, people who need food are also in need of other basic items for their daily personal needs. These items include: razors (men/women), shaving cream, aftershave, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, soap, lotion, feminine hygiene products, tissues, toilet paper, laundry detergent, bleach, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and mouthwash.

There are numerous opportunities for groups to help the Pantry, by participating in the Hunger Walk for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, or conducting a food drive. Please contact us for more information.

We would like to thank the generous people of Niles Township.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Farm Bill round-up...thank (or discipline) your senators

So...the Farm Bill passed and here's some recap. Every motion for subsidy reform failed. Some good nutrition stuff happened, but I have no details yet (stay tuned, I've got a question into the Greater Chicago Food Depository get their perspective). Durbin voted for all reform votes. Obama was a no show for the voting except for Dorgan-Grassley which he voted in favor of. In the immortal words of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scoobies..."Where do we go from here?"

We write letters, of course! We spent a lot of time telling senators to push for reform and a strong nutrition title. Now, we can see how they voted and praise them or voice our displeasure. Bread for the World has the cute idea of sending holiday cards with your message. I think that's a stellar, green use of those extra cards you were thinking about recycling. The 37 senators (Durbin included) who voted for the very progressive Lugar-Lautenberg (FRESH amendment) especially deserve our praise and love.

Here are the sites to find the official roll-call voting records on the big 3 amendments:
Lugar-Lautenberg (FRESH) would have provided the most broad reforms to our nation's commodity payment program -- reforms which, if passed, would have saved billions of dollars to invest in nutrition programs, specialty crop programs, critical conservation initiatives and the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program.

Dorgan-Grassely was the one that had the best shot at passing. It would have ended million-dollar subsidy payments, closed loopholes in farm programs and directed the savings to increase funding for programs the country needs.

Klobuchar/Brown/Durbin would have reformed the subsidy system to prevent farm couples who clear $750,000 in net farm household income and part-time farm couples who clear $250,000 from receiving subsidies. It would have generated some modest savings to redirect into conservation, rural development, healthy foods and energy programs.