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Live Blogging from the Idaho Hunger Summit: Part 3
The lunch keynote speaker is Jim Weill, the executive director of FRAC. He’s been a lifelong advocate (both legal and legislative) for low-income people - before he was at FRAC he spent 16 years at the Children's Defense Fund. Needless to say, the elephant in the room today is what’s happening in our economy, and that’s precisely what he’s talking about.
Some key points of his talk (paraphrasing):
- Inflation for the thrifty food plan (the food plan that USDA says is the bare minimum to ensure healthy meals) from August 2007 to August 2008 is a staggering 10.5%.
- Congress passed a $700 billion bailout to attempt to get the economy back on track. At the same time, President Bush threatened a veto and the Senate could not beat a filibuster to pass a $56 billion stimulus package that included increases for
Food StampsSNAP, unemployment insurance, and construction projects. Economists agree that if you want to stimulate the economy quickly, there’s nothing better you can do to increase SNAP. Why? Because low-income families will spend this money immediately. A version of a “second stimulus” bill will hopefully be re-considered when Congress re-convenes next year, and we need to advocate strongly for that.
- A recent study showed that half of U.S. children will be in a household that will receive SNAP benefits at some time before age 18. Wow.
- Elections: over the next three weeks, show up at candidate events. Despite a weakening economy, neither party is talking too much about hunger and poverty. Ask them what they plan to do not only about middle class families slipping into poverty, but also what they’re doing about the millions of families in America who experienced hunger and poverty even before this crisis.
- The American economy will survive in the long term. But in the short term, we need to re-double our efforts to advocate for policies that will make sure that low-income families survive and can lead healthy, productive lives.
An audience member in her mid 20s just asked, “What can someone of my generation do in the next 10-20 years to clean up the mess of the last 10-20 years.”
Pause… awkward silence… laughter…
Jim responded that the best thing to do is commit yourself… Become service provider, a lobbyist, a community organizer… the list goes on.
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