ICYMI: The end of unemployment benefits, handling food waste,broke systems that create poverty (SSDD)….

Food & Recipes

Video Report: An Oasis in a Food Desert | BillMoyers.combillmoyers.com Take a look inside America’s first nonprofit grocery store, which is bringing fresh food to a struggling community in Pennsylvania.-The first non-profit grocery store opened a few months ago. It’s in Chester, PA… an area with 36% poverty rate and 13% unemployment and in a food desert.
Really interested to see how this does in the long term.

Don’t Waste Your Food- I know . No duh.  But ” Each American wastes $28 to $43 of food or about 20 pounds, per month. The average American family of four generates 36 pounds of wasted food each week. An estimated 50 million Americans don’t have enough to eat. One in six Americans go hungry. Twenty-five million people could get fed, if we reduced our waste by 15 percent.”
Article misses the crucial point that we need to change the system we have so that the food gets rerouted to people before it goes to the dumpster.

The Black Panther Party for Social Justice did some amazing things getting food to the people. Little known trivia : the school meal program that we know in American schools today was copied from The Black Panther Party. They started a free breakfast program for children in poor neighborhoods and fed 10,000 children every morning before school. The Panthers believed that “Children cannot reach their full academic potential if they have empty stomachs.” The Federal government instituted a program of their own when they saw the impact it was creating on neighborhoods. Some say the creation of the government program was due to politicians feeling shamed for not doing enough for families but more likely, the government was afraid of the power it gave the Black Panther Party.

Thrifty Living & DIY

The Most Wasteful Packaging For Food -Good to know, not just for the environmental reasons but if you have to pay for trash removal, the less you’re throwing away,the more money you aren’t spending.

Costs of a Backyard Flock – If you’re thinking of backyard chickens, some good basics. In addition to Craigslist, I’ve seen chickens offered quite often on Freecycle .There’s also a board at the local farm & garden supply store that is a great resource for getting chickens (and other poultry).

Articles & Thoughts

The end is here for long-term jobless benefits – 1.3 million unemployed will lose benefits this weekend. Anyone reading here affected by this?

Thousands of black and Latino kids lost their schools in 2013 -“Rivera and student advocates across the country describe the collective brunt of mass school closings and flawed education policy as an assault on some of the most vulnerable demographics of children in the country. School deserts cross paths where social needs tend to be greatest, where food deserts exists, where there tends to be high levels of unemployment, poverty and violence. What’s at stake in the much broader debate over school closures and urban education policy is a whole generation of minority students already struggling with great social and economic instability.”

This is one of my favorite video interviews about how to end hunger. Thoroughly thought out and practical. Joel Berg addresses the entire underlying causes of hunger and the entire system.

Activism & Awareness

Nashville remembers homeless residents who died in 2013 – “It’s important, because some of the names on the list are people who literally had nobody at all with them when they died, or who even knew they died.”
I recently watched Tent City, a documentary about Nashville’s homeless community, then stumbled on to this article the day after. Worth a watch.

5 critical issues affecting the world’s children -22,000 children die each day because of poverty-related causes. When I posted this on the Facebook page, it was just before Christmas and someone complained that I should save these types of articles until after the holidays. So, here it is, after those holidays and I’m sharing it again.

Boxed In: How a Criminal Record Keeps You Unemployed For Life - Finding myself pissed off about the prison system these days and how it creates poverty.

Hardworking yet still homeless in today’s America – About 3.5 million people experience some kind of homelessness every year, and about a quarter of them are employed at the time

Top 10 Books to Help Kids Understand -I feel like children’s books when done well on a topic can help children learn empathy for others as well as not feel so alone when they are going thru something similar in their life.
These are good recommendations for helping children understand (or not feel alone) about hunger.
Other suggestions in the comments there,too.

Songs for Social Justice: Bullets for breakfast and mass murder meals. Enemy of the state, and your plate is the battlefield

On my regular ol’ blog, I post often about music. I apply music to life and think of it as making up a soundtrack to my own life and the world’s consciousness. It would seem strange if I didn’t carry the music over to this blog, so once in a while, I’ll share some songs that apply to social justice.

This starts off with Vandana Shiva talking…

Once they have established the norm –

that seed can be owned as their property –

royalties can be collected.

We will depend on them

for every seed we grow

of every crop we grow.

If they control seed, they control food, they know it; it’s strategic.

It’s more powerful than bombs.

It’s more powerful than guns.

This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”

“Food Fight” by Earth Amplified is a lyrical commentary on life in an urban food desert  and the role the corporations and the government have in it.  But more than that, it’s about how food is used to further oppressed those who are already economically oppressed.
In the video for “Food Fight”, we follow  a kid on a journey through his homicidal food reality. The local corner store is killing his neighborhood — literally. From a Morpheus-like guide, he learns the reality behind the food he’s buying, and must decide to take the Orange Carrot Pill or the Red Bull Pill..

Lyrics:
That’s what the streets them say.

That’s what police them say.

That’s what the Babylon say.

Put cola upon lips

and get popped the same way now.

That’s what The Pentagon say.

That’s what the generals say.

That’s what the empire say.

Put death down your throat,

you get dropped the same way.

SEASUNZ:

There’s a war going on inside,

no man is safe from:

DDTs, PCBs,

every corner in the hood got a KFC

or McD’s. It’s crack speed like RED

Bull-ish they pulpit — so caffeine,

Kit Kat like a click-clack holes in your genes

Cuz everything at market ain’t all what it seems.

Little Debbie bussing biscuits at sugar-high fiends.

Ain’t nothing but a G thing –

GMO, MSG, genocide of street gangs.

Aspartame or street cane.

Monsanto is Rambo.

Round Up with ammo.

Who would have known you can die from a diet

Diabetes and the -itis from the dairy and the dose

of the high fructose

cuz your ribs too close

so you might start a riot.

Might be a FOOD FIGHTER!

CHORUS REPEATED

SEASUNZ:

They shootin’!

Made you look

at the labels on the food that you cook.

Just say no to cocoa box

cuz when you Google the ingredients, you might get got.

Is your milk on drugs? Cuz your brain on Fox.

Factory farming spawning the Meatrix plot,

Globally warming us all, enough cows and NOx

driving the climate, driving a hummer or not.

Drive-in like a drive-by.

E.coli served super sized with a side of super lies.

so tell me what’s more gangsta than that?

Bullets or burgers both blaze burners to black.

Breakfast is a little like Texas,

Petro is everything that you’re eating on

My pesto is backyard like choppin’ chard.

My school lunch pack a punch.

FOOD FIGHT IS ON!

CHORUS REPEATED

STIC.MAN:

What’s Beef?

Beef is when you’re 12 years old and obese

clogged arteries, can’t see your own feet

until you’re up in ICU, guaranteed to be an ‘I see you”

From that processed food.

Suicide. It’s a suicide.

Don’t want no microwaves, no pesticides.

Fast food’s a slow death in disguise.

It’s the wild wild westernized world of deception and lies.

What’s Beef?

Beef is when you starve in a famine.

Nothing won’t grow and the land stays barren.

Pollution in the river, mercury in the salmon.

What sense do it make, being at war with the planet?

We’re at war for the mind so impressionable.

Instead of vegetables,

we reach for Red Bulls.

Poor diets kill more brothers than pistols.

We’re fighting for our lives like Michael Vic’s pit bulls.

Dog eat dog, America eats the young,

We die from beef, but more from meat than the gun.

Bullets for breakfast and mass murder meals.

Enemy of the state, and your plate is the battlefield

in this FOOD FIGHT!

For educators, there is a curriculum download: FOOD FIGHT: EMPOWERING YOUNG SOLUTIONARIES TO CO-CREATE A HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEM
SoS Juice

The Farmery

Ben Greene has this idea to bring fresh,locally grown produce to the city, especially where food deserts exist. The Farmery consists of stacked shipping containers and a greenhouse in the middle. The food will be grown and sold right there in one location.

In this video, Ben breaks down how it all works
[you tube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EktAl72sIQ8]

Interior shots of the Farmery and furniture we designed for it.

Here’s another video that shows the actual concept

The Reasons Poor People Might Not Eat Healthy

I see  a lot of discussions regarding the topic of people living on food stamps/ poor people and “Why can’t they just eat right?” and talks about not letting people buy “junk food” with SNAP.  There are a lot of things your average American who has never lived in poverty don’t consider. People largely seem unaware of obstacles that face poor people when it comes to food or…well…anything at all. They’re failing to grasp that just getting enough food period is a challenge , let alone healthy food.  I’ve had to become a very forgiving person when I see certain remarks but it’s become easier since I’ve made this connection that people who say these things are speaking from a place of privilege and  ignorance and really don’t understand the complexities of food scarcity in the US.

Here are 5 reasons good food is hard to find for poor people sometimes.

1. FOOD DESERTS – Imagine you live in a city. There isn’t much in your neighborhood besides a few fast food joints, a  Dollar General & a little convenience store. They have things like milk & eggs but any food beyond that comes in a box or a can & everything they do have healthy is overpriced.  The only time you can get to the nearest real grocery store is when your sister comes and visits because she has a car. There is a Farmer’s Market somewhere in the city but like the grocery store, it’s too hard to get to without a car. With me so far?

There is a community garden you’ve been told you can get involved in to grow your own food but it’s not in your neighborhood and you have to take 2 buses  to get there and anyway, you work Monday -Saturday and by the time you would get there, it’s dark and to get back home, you would have to walk partially with your 2 little kids in tow because buses don’t run in your neighborhood (not a safe neighborhood,by the way)  past a certain time in the evening.Sunday is your only day off and the time you want to spend with your children.

You tried growing some things indoors and on a windowsill but 2 windows in the whole apartment… nothing really grew.

The food pantry run by the church has exactly the same selection as the stores you can shop at – boxed & canned food with lots of preservatives and crap. Nothing fresh.

I should mention now that this is a common thing I hear in emails from people living in food deserts.

A food desert is defined as an area that has no food & grocery sources with fresh foods or if they do have fresh foods, they are disproportionately expensive. People affected the most by food deserts are poor people who do not have access to transportation  and the primary affected are single mother & their children, elderly, and disabled. In an area considered a food desert, the rate of obesity & diabetes is much higher and there have been some causal studies that suggest children that live in food deserts don’t do as well in school.  217 million people receiving food stamps live in urban areas compared to about 62 million in rural areas. Food deserts can happen for those in rural areas,too but it’s far more prevalent in urban areas and affects the largest portion of food stamp recipients overall.

2. The Cheapest Food Is Often Junk 

Depending on where you live in the U.S., this may not be true but for most of the country, the norm is that junk food is cheep and good food is expensive. A common statement I hear is, “There should be laws that prevent people on food stamps  from buying junk food!”. I may have mentioned before that I have about 3,000 words in my drafts folder on JUST that topic. Let me see if I can summarize a piece of  the issue here in a lot less than 3,000 words.

Let’s pretend this isn’t an issue attacking the choices of a specific economic class & trying to create a Nanny State that dictates how poor people live and focus on the money aspect here.

SNAP spending accounts for almost $72 billion dollars and food companies who make junk food want most of that to go in their pockets. They spend millions of dollars every year to lobby AGAINST changes in the food stamp program that would prohibit or limit recipients from buying junk food.  The American Beverage Company, Coca Cola, Pepsi Co, Kellog, Kroger, Walmart, Snack Food Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association ,Mars ,and Cargill have all spent money to not just stop bills from being passed to restrict SNAP expenditures but also to promote their food to poor people as their target market. Debbie Stabenow, the Senate Ag Committee Chairwomen received $1,026,196 from undisclosed lobbyists to prevent restrictions from being introduced in the Farm Bill and also to stop GMOs from being labelled.

People can see the value in preventing people on SNAP from buying certain foods all they want but as long as the money is lining the pockets of people making up the rules, it isn’t going to happen. The cheapest food available is going to continue to be junk food. Of course, if this pisses you off enough ,you could start a campaign to make some phone calls, write letters and make some noise about the issue.

But here’s the thing…

If you restrict junk food then there are contingencies that have to be fought for in place of  the inexpensive source of food for these families. If  you remove junk food from the SNAP program then other things have to be put in place, such as better development of urban and community gardens, access to Farmer’s Markets, and quite simply, better allocation & distribution of food waste from grocery store & the food industry.

CORRECTION!!!  Debbie Stabenow actually received:   $903,008 from Big Ag  $359,090 from energy industry (also affected by the farm bill)  $1,026,196 from undisclosed Lobbyists and Lawyers  Occupy the Farm Bill   www.facebook.com/stabenow  www.facebook.com/occupythefarmbill

3. Education

I worked with children for a long time. There were kids who had never seen a fresh vegetable or fruit in their life. The closest thing to a potato that they knew was a french fry. I want to make it very clear here  – not all these kids came from poor families. In fact, most of them didn’t.  America as a whole needs to learn better nutrition and how to spend their food dollars better. It isn’t just a poor people issue.  It is true that demographically poor people are less educated and also have less access to educational resources but seriously…let’s be honest here – Americans have become a nation of people who make some very poor choices about what goes into their body. Rich or poor.406231_401023336623051_1406311727_n

 

Let’s also be honest about why there’s a focus on poor people to have better food education. They’re spending “taxpayer money”, so we should be sure they’re spending every dollar wisely. 10 cents a day goes into SNAP…that’s if you make $50,000/ year. Good heavens, yes…we need to make sure this 10 cents a day is being spent on healthy food only and preventing additional healthcare poor people may need on the taxpayer dime. Newsflash: The entire population contributes to the rising cost of health care costs because of their eating habits, regardless of  whether they eat on the dole or not.

Nutrition education is important for the whole country and I’m in favor for better access to nutrition education for everyone. Like I mentioned,  poor people are the least likely to have access to the resources to make this happen so we need to advocate for programs that enable people in poverty to boost their food knowledge.  One of the best ways to educate on the matters of food & nutrition is to implement more programs like Food is Elementary in US schools and school gardens that can be used not just to supply a cafeteria but also serve as a cross-curricular education opportunity.Start them young and it will set them up for a life of good and responsible eating.

4. Ability

A great deal of food stamp recipients are disabled and quite a few of them have limited support people who can cook for them. A can of  Hormel Chili is easy to open and heat in the microwave. Disabled people often encounter the same problems as those in food deserts…inability to travel to a real grocery store  to go shopping. Some areas have great services for disabled people, such as Meals on Wheels but these programs are not available everywhere. Elderly people without support also fall into this category of simply not being able to shop for or prepare food for themselves.

5. 99% of Homes May Have Refrigerators But That Doesn’t Mean They Have Stoves 

Anyone else remember when Fox News tried to dispute that America even had poor people because “99.6% of ‘Poor’ Households Have Refrigerators”. Like, because someone has a refrigerator, it means they open the door and magically, food appears! Or the electric bill was magically paid that month so the refrigerator could work. Same applies to stoves . I’ve known some families who could not use the stove in their house or apartment because it was a gas stove, which meant an additional bill they could not pay. Some are fortunate enough to have electricity and can use a microwave but you know what you can cook easily in a microwave,right?  Not to say you CAN’T cook a decent ,healthy meal in a microwave but it’s a bit more difficult. Most who are stuck with microwave cooking tend to favor frozen meals…lots of preservatives,highly processed & low nutritional value. I actually knew one women who didn’t have a microwave or a stove and still made some great meals for her family using a hot plate and a toaster oven but it took a lot of time. On the days she worked outside the home, she had to stick to convenience foods otherwise no one would have been fed in time for bed.  The day she found a crockpot at a yard sale was a happy day indeed.