259 posts categorized "Hunger in the News"
Hunger in the News: War on Poverty, Unaccompanied Minors, Hunger in South Sudan, and Overhauling Criminal Justice
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.
“War on poverty’ remains incomplete after half century, say advocates,” by Robert Dilday, APB News/Herald. “Fifty years after the nation marshaled its forces to eradicate poverty, about 46 million Americans are still numbered among the poor. That has to change, say Christians engaged in the issue
“This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps,” by By Darlena Cunha, The Washington Post. “That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. “
“COMMENTARY: Christians worship a child who fled violence in his home country” by Gay Clark Jennings, Religion News Service. “The baby Jesus survived Herod’s massacre because his parents took him across a border to a land where he was safe. Just like parents in Central America who are sending their children away, Mary and Joseph took great risks so their son could survive.”
“Poverty, violence fuel exodus of youths from Honduras to U.S,” by Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News. “Like many, Maynor Serrano yearns to escape to the U.S., where he has relatives. ‘It’s tough to live without hope,’ he said. ‘If it’s not there, you go look for it.”
“Misery stalks South Sudan refugees in camps,” by Jenny Vaughan, AFP. “Nyayoul Gach was first driven from her home in South Sudan because of violence, but escaped into Ethiopia because of hunger, unable to feed her five children who were rapidly wasting away.”
“US sending $22 million more to aid South Sudan,” by Deb Ricchmann, AP. “The U.S. announced on Thursday an additional $22 million in humanitarian assistance to refugees and people displaced by the violence in South Sudan.”
“Rand Paul, Cory Booker team up for justice,” by Seung Min Kim, Politico. “The duo of high-profile, first-term senators — one a New Jersey Democrat who came to Capitol Hill on Twitter-fueled national fame, the other a Kentucky Republican mulling a presidential bid in 2016 — will roll out legislation that comprehensively overhauls the U.S. criminal justice system.”
“Strong June Jobs Report Masks Woes of Long-Term Unemployed,” by Rob Garver,The Fiscal Times. “There is one segment of the population, though, that has not been sharing equally in the gains: the long-term jobless. The share of the unemployed who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more fell to 32.8 percent, but remains extremely high by historic standards.”
“Global Poverty Levels Halved But More Africans In Extreme Poverty Than In 1990: UN Report,” by Avaneesh Pandey, International Business Times. “While the world has managed to slash the number of poor people by half in the last 20 years, more people in sub-Saharan Africa now live in a state of extreme poverty and hunger than ever before, according to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals report published Monday.”
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.
"DHS: Violence, poverty, is driving children to flee Central America to U.S.," by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Jens Manuel Krogstad, and Mark Hugo Lopez, The Pew Center. "Of the thousands of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S. border in recent months, many can be attributed to poverty and regional violence in three Central American countries, a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security document finds."
"UN Forced to Cut Food Rations to African Refugees," by Kells Hetherington, Voice of America. “The cuts are ‘threatening to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anemia, particularly in children,’ the WFP and refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement.”
"Programs Target Poverty in Obama's Five 'Promise Zones'," by Kelly McEvers, All Things Considered, NPR. "Persistent interracial poverty is a complicated problem. There are a lot of big forces that are perpetuating it."
"Bipartisan bill would extend unemployment insurance," by Cristina Marcos, The Hill. "Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) have introduced a bill that would extend unemployment insurance for five months."
“Sen. Patty Murray's plan to reduce summer childhood hunger” by David Sarasohn, The Oregonian. “Twenty-one million kids get free or reduced-price school lunches, but summer food programs reach only three million of them.”
“What Kept Food Security from Improving After the Recession?“ by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, USDA, Food Assistance Branch, Economic Research Service. “The association of food insecurity with unemployment, inflation, and the relative price of food are explored in our recent ERS report.”
“Cyclists pedal for hunger in central Neb.” By Ellen Mortensen, Kearny Hub. “I listened to a speaker back in the early ’90s who said every time you take a breath, someone dies of hunger. I saw all the agriculture in our state, and it really bothered me that here we are with all this food and people are dying of hunger. I knew I had to do something about it,”
A regular, non-comprehensive roundup of current news links on hunger and poverty issues from around the Web.
"Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor," by Seth Freed Wessler, NBC News. "As millions of Americans continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, a growing portion of the country says that poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll."
"How the U.S. compares on income inequality and poverty," by Elizabeth Shell, PBS NewsHour. Based on new data on income inequality. PBS NewsHour takes a look to see how the United States compares against the group’s 33 other countries — and its upcoming World Cup matches.
"Foreign Aid Isn't Charity, It's an Investment," by Charles Kenny, Businessweek. "One of the few bright spots of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill of late has been in global development. The House recently passed a bill to support President Clinton’s Power Africa initiative, which is designed to boost access to electricity access across six countries in the region. Both houses also managed to reauthorize PEPFAR –the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief– which provides antiretrovirals to nearly seven million people worldwide. The U.S. still ranks near the bottom of the list among rich countries in terms of the generosity of its overseas development program, but these two pieces of legislation at least suggest that altruism and fellow feeling have not completely evaporated in Washington. Nonetheless, U.S. foreign assistance –and aid programs the world over—still face a real challenge."
"Michelle Obama vows again to fight delays in enforcing school-lunch standards," by Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post. First lady Michelle Obama vowed again Wednesday to fight attempts to delay enforcement of school lunch nutrition standards, expressing surprise and regret at proposals in Congress that would allow some school districts to seek waivers from requirements that they offer more healthful fare.
"13 facts that help explain America's child-migrant crisis," by Dara Lind, Vox. "The flow of unaccompanied immigrant children across the US-Mexico border — mostly from Central America — is continuing to gain attention as a humanitarian crisis. So here are 13 things you need to know to get a handle on what is actually going on along the border right now; what process the US has in place to deal with unaccompanied kids; and what the government can do now."
"40 maps that explain food in America," by Ezra Klein and Susannah Locke, Vox. "'The future of the nations will depend on the manner of how they feed themselves,' wrote the French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. Almost 200 years later, how nations feed themselves has gotten a lot more complicated. That’s particularly true in the U.S., where food insecurity coexists with an obesity crisis, where fast food is everywhere and farmer’s markets are spreading, where foodies have never had more power and McDonald’s has never had more locations, and where the possibility of a barbecue-based civil war is always near."
"The damage of poverty is visible as early as kindergarten," by Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox. "A big part of the American Dream is being able to climb the ladder and land higher than your parents. But that climb starts when people are just small children, according to new research, and getting off on the wrong foot has lifelong consequences."
"In Most States, Unemployment Rates Haven’t Bounced Back," by Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times (infographic). Five years since the end of the recession, many states still haven’t returned to, or neared, their previous levels of unemployment. And though many states have seen significant drops in rates, most of the improvement can be attributed to workers dropping out of the labor force altogether.
"House Delays Vote on Easing School Meal Standards," by Emmarie Huetteman and Ron Nixon, New York Times. A House vote on an Agriculture Department spending bill containing a provision that would allow schools to opt out of the Obama administration’s nutrition standards for school meals has been delayed.
"Here's Why This Food Truck Takes Your Cash and Gives You Nothing," by Liz Dwyer, Takepart.com. Minnesota company Finnegans has a "reverse" food truck that collects nonperishable items and money for hungry citizens, rather than selling food.
"Here's How States Are Fighting Income Inequality," by Jake Grovum, Stateline/Huffington Post. "The two U.S. counties with the worst income inequality couldn’t be more different. No. 1 is Manhattan. The second is a rural Native American reservation in North Dakota. The two illustrate how widely inequality is spread around the country, and how the issue presents itself in different ways. The far-reaching problem was a driving force behind a raft of proposals in the states this year, as lawmakers looked to address persistent wealth gaps exacerbated by the Great Recession and the subsequent years of halting economic growth."
"Economic Upswing Has Fewer Americans Receiving Food Stamps," by Pam Fessler, NPR. Critics of the food stamp program have been alarmed in recent years by its rapid growth, but the numbers have started to drop. "It's really showing that the program is doing what it's designed to do," says Dorothy Rosenbaum, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "It expanded when the economy was weak and when unemployment was on the rise. And now, as the economy is improving, it's starting to decline."
"Unemployment Extension: Score One for Gridlock," by Steven Dennis, Roll Call. "Gridlock is winning the battle over an unemployment extension. It's June 1, the day after a Senate-passed unemployment benefits extension would have expired, and advocates are no closer to restoring them. An estimated 2.9 million unemployed workers have been cut off from the now-defunct Emergency Unemployment Compensation program."
"Homelessness declines as new thinking fuels 'giant untold success'," by Noelle Swan, Christian Science Monitor. "A radical change in how states address homelessness has fueled a 17 percent decline in homelessness since 2005 – a trend that has withstood financial panic, a foreclosure crisis, and the Great Recession."
"Seattle minimum-wage fight: Does $15 an hour make economic sense?" by Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times. One of the architects of the $15 minimum wage, multimillionaire Nick Hanauer, explains how raising the wage in Seattle will help the economy.
"The Campaign for Junk Food: Michelle Obama on Attempts to Roll Back Healthy Reforms," by Michelle Obama, New York Times (op-ed). "As parents, we always put our children’s interests first. We wake up every morning and go to bed every night worrying about their well-being and their futures. And when we make decisions about our kids’ health, we rely on doctors and experts who can give us accurate information based on sound science. Our leaders in Washington should do the same."
"The worst places in the world to be a worker," by Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post. The International Trade Union Confederation debuted its Global Rights Index, ranking countries on a 1 (best) through 5 (worst) scale on the basis of how well workers' rights are protected. The report ranks the United States a dismal 4.
"Why your baggage handler may be on food stamps," by Simone Pathe, PBS NewsHour. "Joshua Vina works as a baggage handler at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — the site of Washington state’s first push for a $15 an hour minimum wage. [V]oters in Sea-Tac, the community surrounding the airport, narrowly approved a ballot initiative — known as Proposition 1 — to raise the minimum wage and provide workers with paid sick days. But nearly 5,000 workers at the airport still haven’t gotten their raises because Alaska Airlines, which represents half of the airport’s traffic, has challenged the initiative in court.
"When Did School Lunch Become a Political Issue?" by Katrina Heron, Salon. "When did feeding kids a nutritious lunch become a partisan political issue? Last week healthy-food bigwigs—First Lady Michelle Obama, writers like Mark Bittman and Marion Nestle —were forced, once again, to defend nutritious school meals, which are under threat, once again, from Capitol Hill.
"The Main ‘Vegetables’ Americans Eat Are Pizza and French Fries," by Jason Best, TakePart.com. "New USDA research finds we’re mostly fooling ourselves that we're eating our vegetables."
Let's pretend, for a moment, that you're the parent of a two-year-old, and you want to make sure you're buying your toddler the most nutritious food possible, so she will grow healthy and strong. You're looking for advice. Whom would you turn to? Maybe a doctor? A nutritionist? Or a lobbyist?
Most people would pick the doctor or nutritionist, but it seems that some members of Congress would be inclined to go with the lobbyist.
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee are currently embroiled in a debate about the nutritional value of one of America's favorite foods—the white potato.
Potato growers have recently voiced outrage over the exclusion of the white potato from the approved list of food that can be bought with Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program benefits. WIC provides healthy food to pregnant women and young children, allowing families to buy certain items deemed nutritious by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Milk and fruit are on the list, as are vegetables—save for white potatoes. USDA guidelines exclude white potatoes from WIC because, according to its dietary data, no Americans, rich or poor, are eating too few white potatoes in any form—in fact, we are eating too many. Potato growers maintain, as anyone with a financial stake in selling more potatoes might do, that white spuds are a nutritional powerhouse that should be available to WIC beneficiaries.
Today, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee sided with potato growers, voting during its agriculture appropriations committee markup process to examine the issue more closely but, in the meantime, add white potatoes to the list of approved WIC foods.
Allowing a powerful special interest to have any say in determining guidelines for federal child nutrition programs sets a dangerous precedent. The move opens the door for lobbyists and special interests to begin promoting their foods. Luckily, there is still time to fix it! You can still contact your senators and tell them that the WIC foods program must address the nutritional needs of children, not the interests of the most powerful lobbies.
New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has written a piece on the potato battle, and what seems to be a trend toward members of Congress throwing science out the window and considering the profits and needs of special interests, to the detriment of children. It doesn't stop with Congress caving to the demands of potato growers—a recent House bill proposed allowing schools to ignore healthy eating guidelines for school lunches if they find that ridding their cafeterias of junk means they're making less money from food sales.
This week, a large group of national, state, and local organizations penned a sign-on letter to Congress, asking them to continue to let science-based decisions govern federal nutrition programs, whether deciding what foods can be purchased with WIC benefits, or what nutritional guidelines school lunches should follow. Hopefully, members of Congress will realize that science, not special interests, should be determining what is considered the most nutritious food for growing children.
"For Many Boomer Immigrants, Rough Times Ahead," by Chris Farrell, PBS Next Avenue. "On average, aging immigrant boomers own fewer assets, earn less income and have little savings set aside for their elder years than their native-born peers. They also tend to work longer, well into the traditional retirement years."
"Congress shifts food aid funds into shipping costs," The Olympian (editorial). "A month ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, which increased transportation costs of U.S.-sourced food aid by $75 million annually. A coalition of humanitarian groups estimates that diverting this money from food to shipping costs will deprive about 2 million vulnerable people of access to life-saving food."
"What I Realized When I Finally Decided to Sign Up for Food Stamps," by Dennis Powers, Huffington Post. "What it has let me do is purchase better quality foods. Low sodium canned products, more fruit and fresh vegetables and slightly better cuts of meat instead of just the cheapest. I still need to be frugal but I no longer need to defer a food purchase in order to fill my gas tank, pay my phone bill or buy medication. There is still a lot of stress from my financial situation but I never realized how much of it or how insidious it was to maintain the balancing act of paying bills or buying food."
"Who Gets to Graduate?" by Paul Tough, New York Times. "[W]hether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor — how much money his or her parents make. To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree."
"Here’s Something You Can Do About Climate Change: Don’t Eat," by Jason Best, Takepart.com. "Could fasting once a month make a difference when it comes to climate change? That’s the question behind a growing global movement coalescing around the hashtag #fastfortheclimate."
Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2014/05/15/3133254/congress-shifts-food-aid-funds.html#storylink=cpy
"The Changing Picture Of Poverty: Hard Work Is 'Just Not Enough,'" by Pam Fessler, NPR. "There are 46 million poor people in the U.S., and millions more hover right above the poverty line — but go into many of their homes, and you might find a flat-screen TV, a computer or the latest sneakers.And that raises a question: What does it mean to be poor in America today?"
"Mapping Three Decades of Income Inequality, State by State," by Richard Florida, Atlantic Cities. "Income inequality has risen considerably in the United States and across the entire advanced world. Most research has focused on growing inequality within and across nations. What’s less clear is to what degree income inequality has grown across different parts of the U.S."
"One in five rely on food stamps in five states," by Jennifer Liberto, CNN Money. Nearly one in five people are on food stamps in five states—Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, New Mexico and Louisiana—a stark reminder that the Great Recession continues to be a drag on the nation's poorest.
"A taste of school lunches around world," by Donna Gordon Blankinship, AP. The Associated Press sent photographers to Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America to see what kids around the globe eat for lunch.
"Where Do Food Stamps Go the Furthest? At the Farmers Market," by Willy Blackmore, TakePart.com. Despite the cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps) brought about by the new farm bill, a $2.5 million grant from First 5 L.A. will make SNAP recipients’ food assistance go twice as far at farmers markets across the Southland.
With one-third of unauthorized immigrants living in poverty and reports showing that legalization and citizenship would increase immigrants' earnings 13 percent or more, immigration reform is an important hunger issue. Moreover, the biblical mandate to "welcome the stranger" implores us as Christians to seek reform of our country's immigration system. The Hebrew word for immigrant — ger — appears 92 times in the Bible.
It has been nearly a year since the Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Despite widespread support for advancing some sort of immigration reform, the House has yet to act as a whole. However, significant movement has taken place behind the scenes.
The Senate passed one large comprehensive immigration bill, but the House decided to take a piecemeal approach, opting instead to pass a number of separate bills dealing with different aspects of our immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee has passed five bordersecurity measures. More importantly, three other bills lie in the wings as representatives negotiate final details and prepare for the proper moment to introduce their legislation. These bills focus on granting citizenship to DREAMERS (undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as young children by their parents or relatives and who have lived most of their lives here), providing a path to legalization for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., and addressing low-skilled workers.
For Congress to carry out comprehensive immigration reforms, the House must act. The votes exist. Speaker John Boehner needs only to bring legislation to the floor of the House for a vote. Many House Republicans, including many within the leadership, have made strong statements indicating their support for passing reforms this year.
There are two periods when immigration reform has its best chance of passing out of the House: the next couple of months and early this fall. A number of House Republicans wanted to delay voting for reforms, scared off by potential primary challengers. Now that the primaries are ending, a short window of opportunity exists before the August recess. Another short window of opportunity exists in September, after the August recess but before members return to their districts for the final campaign spree before the November elections.
Members of Congress must feel political pressure to act. They must feel there is a political cost in their November elections if they are seen as not acting on immigration reform. This is not a question of policy. It is a question of politics and members hearing from their constituents. Members of Congress need to be going to leadership, urging them to bring immigration bills up for a vote in the House because they are feeling too much pressure back home not to do so.
During Bread's 2014 Lobby Day (June 10 — see Bread Slices for more information), we will be increasing this pressure. One of the "asks" or topics during Lobby Day will be urging House members to press for votes on immigration reform, primarily those bills that will have a measurable impact in reducing hunger.
Photo: Advocates gather in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 27, 2013, to pray for compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
[This article originally appeared in the May 2014 edition of Bread for the World's e-newsletter.]
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.