Tag Archives: hunger

Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

The 23rd annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive
is on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Food Drive '15 (RGB) flat-1

The largest single-day food drive in the United States also happens to be one of the easiest to be a part of. All it takes is a quick trip to your mailbox. Throughout the week leading up to the food drive, local letter carriers will be dropping off reminder post cards and special grocery bags to both city and rural residents’ mailboxes. The letter carriers encourage those who can help to fill the bags, or any other grocery bag, with nonperishable food items and leave them by their mailboxes on the morning of Saturday, May 9. Your letter carrier will do the rest, making sure the food gets to the one in five Arizonans — and one in four children — dealing with hunger issues in our state.

For more information on this event, visit www.helpstampouthunger.com.

Fruity or Oaky? Rambling Thoughts on White People Problems

by Pamela Powers Hannley

My coffee table book is too large for my coffee table.

My Internet connection is too slow.

My dishwasher doesn’t really get the dishes clean.

iPads should have a USB connection.

I can’t remember all of my passwords.

Will Wall Street gambling hurt by 401K’s performance?

My car is annoying. The on-board computer tells me when to add air to the tires, when someone’s seatbelt is undone, and when it needs to go to the shop for service.

I hate it when I find a good recipe on the Internet and then can’t find it again.

Cable TV is too expensive for what your get. NetFlix is the way to go– or just plug the laptop into the flat screen TV.

I give my dog a daily dab of Greek yogurt with her dog food because she farts too much.

Heck with the dog. I’m out of probiotics.

I ran out of dishwasher liquid on Christmas. Why were the grocery stores closed?

I need a bigger hot water heater because I like steamy showers.

Should I add a diamond anniversary band to my wedding set?

Fast food workers should be glad they have a job. Minimum wage is just a starter salary for teenagers.

My smart phone camera doesn’t have a high-enough resolution.

Dry cleaning is a necessary evil.

Why do I have to press “1″ for English?

Charter or private school? Public education is a mess.

Email solicitations for donations are annoying.

I have so many device chargers that it’s hard to keep them straight.

Mini-dorms and maxi-dorms are decreasing my property values.

Lugging bottles of filtered water into the house is a hassle. I need purified water from the tap.

Poor people shouldn’t eat fast food. Buying organic is so much better for them.

I make chicken enchiladas with whole wheat tortillas, and I add plain yogurt and nutritional yeast to guacamole. There, I said it.

It’s 6:30 a.m., and my newspaper hasn’t been delivered yet. Where is that guy?

Why should I subsidize Medicaid with my taxes? The government should take care of the poor.

Coconut Minis!

Is seven remote controls too many?

Hot guacamole? Yum, it’s great in a bread bowl. Just remember to stir continuously so it doesn’t scorch when you’re cooking it.

Gentrification? So, what’s wrong with improving the neighborhood?

I support mass transportation. I took the bus twice last year.

A wine refrigerator would be nice.

Salmon or halibut?

Mac or PC?

iPhone or Droid?

Tablet or laptop?

Verizon or Credo?

Fur or fake?

Fruity or oaky?

Whether you call these “white people problems” or “first world problems,” the message is the same. To all of you who are living near the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, don’t forget the people at the bottom who are searching for food and shelter– not the remote control.

Tucson Food Stamp Challenge: A Teachable Moment

Food-stamp32-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

September is Hunger Action Month. Locally, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is encouraging Tucson residents to take the SNAP (food stamp) challenge by trying to live on $4 of food per person per day.

If you follow my blog, you know that I write regularly about poverty and imperiled social safety net programs, including food stamps and other nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels and school lunches. When the food bank called me and asked if I wanted to join the SNAP Challenge and blog about it, I jumped on board. I was intrigued by Cory Booker’s food stamp challenge blogging and video and wanted to try it.

My husband and I both participated in the SNAP challenge this week. Since there were 2 of us doing it, our allotment was $32 for the 4 days of the challenge. Read about our experience after the jump.

Broccoli39-sm72On Sunday, with SNAP in mind, we purchased $20 of food– mostly bulk grains and vegetables– at Sprouts in midtown Tucson and purchased a few additional items– like butter and ground turkey– at Fry’s on Monday. It was the first time in years that I looked at every price, weighed all of my purchases, scouted for items that were on sale, and looked for cheaper alternatives to regular purchases (like buying a 1 lb block of butter in a plain wrapper for $2.79 , instead of 4 quarters individually wrapped and boxed for $4.39 or buying Roma tomatoes for $.99/lb rather than vine ripened tomatoes for twice the price).

What we purchased (above) was almost as interesting as what we didn’t purchase.

We bought: a 5lb bag potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 3 Roma tomatoes, 1 head of broccoli, 1 head of Romaine lettuce, 2 ears of corn, 1 lb of brown rice, 1 lb of dried black beans, 1 cantaloupe, 1 package of whole wheat tortillas, 1 mango, 1 small bag of carrots, 2 Hatch chillies, 12 eggs, cheese, 1 lb of ground turkey, 1 block o’ butter, tofu, and $4 worth of coffee. Our most expensive food item was the ground turkey at $3.79, followed by tortillas ($2.99), and eggs and butter ($2.79 each). We spent about $10 total on all of the fruits and vegetables.

Food items that we usually buy– but didn’t– include: salmon, chicken breast, lunch meat, Kefir, Greek yogurt, expensive cheese, crackers, chips, good bread, milk, olive oil, prepared sauces, specialty foods, non-dairy ice cream, and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. What’s interesting to note is the number of protein-rich foods we couldn’t afford to buy.

Having read many Facebook posts and the food bank’s communal blog written by other SNAP challenge participants, I think we did pretty well, compared to some others who tried this. Although we probably didn’t consume enough protein during the past 4 days, we didn’t go hungry, we didn’t run out of food, and, for the most part, we ate well and included many fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in our meals– not junk food.

Although we ate slightly different items at some meals (since I am a vegetarian and he isn’t), we cooked our usual 3 meals per day over the 4 days. Some food choices got repetitious– particularly the tofu and black beans– because it’s difficult to create a variety of meals with the same ingredients. Creativity helped a lot– in coming up with different combinations and with making substitutions based upon what’s available. For example, we always cook with olive oil, but since we didn’t buy oil with our SNAP allotment, we ended up cooking with butter. (The butter was a tasty change of pace for us, but it’s interesting to note that we had to make an unhealthy choice because of our limited food budget.)

Our dinner menus included vegetable and tofu fried rice on Tuesday; corn on the cob, steamed sweet potatoes, and salad with lettuce, tomato, and carrots on Wednesday; and cheese and Hatch chili omelette with sauted sweet potatoes on Thursday. Lunches consisted of a bowl of black beans with salad; broccoli, brown rice, and cheese burritos; ground turkey, brown rice, and cheese burritos; black bean, potato, and cheese burritos; or stir-fry leftovers. The stir-fry meal is a good example of a modified regular dish we make because we had limited veggies and no prepared sauces to spike it up. The $.22 worth of fresh chilies really came in handy several times– including in the stir-fry. Stretching small quantities of food is another skill learned on the SNAP challenge. It was amazing how my husband stretched that one pound of ground turkey out over 4 days– fashioning it into burritos for lunch and self-styled meat patties to eat with his morning egg and home fries.

There are lessons learned here on the SNAP challenge.
Hatch-chilies21-sm72

It takes a lot of planning, creativity, and home cooking to exist on the food stamp allotment of $4/day/person. For the most part, we made the SNAP allotment work for us by shopping frugally, cooking everything from scratch, and making trade-offs. But we have life skills and education that many food stamp recipients don’t have– like a masters in public health. An 18-year-old single mom would have a much harder time creating healthy meals for herself and her child on this meager amount of money than we did.

It’s easier to live on SNAP when you’re a couple (without kids). Getting $32 for the 2 of us enabled us to buy a wider range of food. I think it would be extremely difficult to live on food stamps if you are a single parent with a child because you would be constantly saying, “No, we can’t afford to buy that.” Prepared foods– cereal, peanut butter, cookies, chips, frozen dinners, soda, candy– are marketed heavily to children. It was easy for us to bypass all of those pricey items.

Buying bulk foods and shopping sales saves money. Sprouts has a wide variety of bulk grains, fruits, and vegetables at affordable prices. It was a good choice for the bulk of our SNAP shopping because we could buy one pound of black beans for $1.69 or one pound of brown rice for $.99, instead of large prepackaged bags.

Living on foods stamps is about making wise choices and trade-offs. The bottomline is: on SNAP you can’t buy or eat what you want when you want– especially meat, fish, and chicken. When you’re on such a strict food budget, you have to make tough choices. The lack of variety– particularly in protein-rich foods– got boring for me, but beyond “boring”, it’s not healthy to have such a limited diet.

The official 4-day challenge ends today– Friday– but you can still take the challenge and try living on a $4/day/person food stamp budget. Living on SNAP is anything but a snap. If you’re in the cut food stamps political camp, put your money where your mouth is and take the SNAP challenge.

Like what you read here? Check out my Word Press blog Tucson-Progressive.com, my Tumblr page, or my Facebook page.