Archive for Food Security
This is getting to be a Buffalo Springfield kind of thing, ain’t it?
Fast food workers in at least 150 cities nationwide will walk off the job on Dec. 4, demanding an industry-wide base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Workers unanimously voted on the date for the new strike during a Nov. 25 conference call, held shortly before the second anniversary of the movement’s first strike.
The first of the recent fast food strikes took place on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. Two hundred workers from various fast food restaurants around the city participated in that strike, making it the largest work stoppage to ever hit the fast food industry. Since then, the size of the movement has ballooned several times over: With the backing of the powerful service sector labor union SEIU, the campaign has come to include thousands of workers in the U.S.
Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor:
The fast food strikes and other actions by low-wage workers have been a major source of momentum behind increasing the minimum wage. No one was talking about $15 an hour until fast food workers started fighting for it in late 2012. The Democratic proposal of a $10.10 federal minimum was generally portrayed in the media as a reach, the grounds for a compromise to something lower. $15 sounded impossible, yet now two major American cities—Seattle and San Francisco—are on their way there, while Chicago is about to pass a $13 an hour minimum wage, Oakland has approved a $12.25 wage, Washington, DC, and neighboring counties in Maryland are on their way to $11.50, and Massachusetts is going to $11. Doubtless some or all of these cities and states would have done something about the minimum wage without this level of worker organizing, but there’s no way we’d be seeing so many places going above $10.10.
Chicago passed its $13 an hour measure yesterday.
Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and Moral Mondays organizer, spoke on the conference call, saying, “The battle for fair wages is as critical as the battle that young people waged in the 1960s when they came into the sit-in movement.”
The particulars of these events are not as important as what they represent: a growing sense of frustration with economic and social conditions. These actions are symbolic, intended to break through the “everybody knows” noise generated by the mass media.
Millions of people make $8 to $10 an hour working as cashiers or in restaurants, or providing elder or child care – a far cry from a living wage. Despite working hard, many of these people live in poverty or on the edge of poverty.
This isn’t what America is about, and it can’t be reconciled with political rhetoric that says if you work hard and play by the rules, you will succeed in the United States.
In a season when the western world empathizes with Bob Cratchit’s struggles – with no heat for his office – to feed his fictional family, real families working for miserly wages and hours must choose between buying food and heating their homes. Food banks are sorely taxed. With every succeeding year, Dickens’ morality tale looks more and more like a quintessentially American story.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Traditional anti-consumerism boycotts of Black Friday have company this year.
In the wake of the grand jury decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, activists are encouraging black consumers to turn to economic activism and boycott the busiest shopping day of the year.
Under the title “No Justice, No Profit,” the boycott aims to capitalize on the purchasing power of the black community, which Al Jazeera points out is about $1 trillion, and prove, in a language businesses will understand—money—that injustice doesn’t come without consequence.
Dacia Polk of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition explained the boycott to St. Louis Public Radio, saying:
“There will be no business as usual while those who are supposed to protect and serve us,” she said. “Until this nation begins to place value on black lives, there will be no value placed on this business because black lives matter.”
Protesters are urged to avoid large retailers and to support instead local, black-owned businesses. Hashtags: #BoycottBlackFriday, #BlackOutBlackFriday #HandsUpDontSpend, #NotOneDime, and #BrownFriday.
Walmart, the crown jewel of the low-wage economy, is still in the running for “worst corporation in the world.” Again this year, the home of low, low wages faces Thanksgiving and Black Friday protests from community activists and its own employees — I’m sorry Associates:
OUR Walmart first burst onto the scene two years ago, when it used Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, to launch an unprecedented, nationwide strike against Walmart. The group originally demanded that Walmart pay all employees a base salary of at least $25,000 per year, but has since joined with striking fast food workers in demanding at least $15 per hour.
As with OUR Walmart’s first major action in 2012, this year’s Black Friday protests will not be a typical strike. Many of those picketing Walmart — perhaps even most — will be outside supporters of the OUR Walmart campaign, not store employees themselves. Those employees who do walk off the job will likely do so for just one day. Yet OUR Walmart has said that their prior work stoppages are legally protected strikes, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed. Strikes over wages and working conditions, or over an alleged ULP (unfair labor practice), such as illegally retaliating against workers, are protected by federal law.
Besides fringe benefits like missing Thanksgiving and Christmas with families, Associates also miss meals:
This year’s protests by Walmart workers will kick off on Thanksgiving with a 24-hour fast by 12 protesters. The fast, which is protesting the hunger suffered by some Walmart workers who can’t afford food, will be staged outside a Los Angeles store.
One of the workers participating in the fast is Richard Reynoso, an overnight stocker at the Duarte, California store. Reynoso is one of those workers who cannot afford to purchase three meals a day. As a result, he only eats once a day on his lunch break.
“Sometimes all I have money for is a can of tuna and crackers,” he said.
But progressives need to be careful. Even as living wage advocates demand higher wages from big-box retailers, such protests can pit them against the very communities they hope to help. Those everyday low prices enable the Waltons’ clientele in poorer neighborhoods to stretch their limited incomes. Perhaps a new slogan?
Walmart: We make poor affordable
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Several stories about hunger in America popped up this weekend, a couple online and another just down my street. Among people you wouldn’t identify as poor and struggling just by looking at them. PBS Newshour reported on women in Denver who fell into poverty, women who don’t fit popular stereotypes of people on SNAP.
CAROLINE POOLER: Any one of your fellow peers, colleagues or fellow parishioners may be hungry, but you don’t know that about them, because people don’t want to advertise that about themselves. There’s lots of people out there who do not have enough to eat until next payday. There’s a lot of working people who give their last five bucks to their kid for lunch and they go without. And so that’s kind of a different face of hunger than people are thinking of hunger.
Over at Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak reposted Jenn’s story from Poor As Folk blog, “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis”
That brings me to the hunger. The hunger is extraordinary. There is a constant gnawing in your stomach, an empty feeling that has taken up permanent residence. Even as you’re eating a meal, you feel the hunger. It never goes away because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again…
As food stamp benefits continue to be cut and food pantries struggle to feed communities, that uncertainty will just continue. I hate to think of my children feeling the same way. They get first dibs on all food that comes through this house. There are many days when my kids get their three meals and I get half of one and my husband … well, I never see him because he is working all the time, but he barely eats, too.
A chance meeting my wife had this week brought the problem home. This is the story pretty much in her own words: Read More→
As states cut back on unemployment for the long-term unemployed, North Carolina leads the way. From Bloomberg’s opinion section:
Across the country, the unemployed will lose from 14 to 47 weeks of insurance when the extension ends. Five other states will join North Carolina in providing fewer than 26 weeks of payments — the standard in the U.S until this year. What’s happened in North Carolina since July is an indication of what will happen nationwide. The picture is troubling.
The federal extension expires on January 1, 2014. North Carolina got a head start last summer when it cut the maximum benefit length and reduced the payments.
As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40 percent, since last year. Expiring benefits aren’t the only reason for this. Far fewer are filing a claim in the first place. Initial claims are running at about half last year’s rate. Unemployment insurance is a thinner safety net than it has been in decades.
In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen –77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. [Emphasis mine.]
That’s understandable, in part because nationwide there were still three job seekers per job as of May.
Food pantries are stretched, becoming, as Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Bank suggested, “the safety net of the safety net.”
Please help out your local food banks this season. Decision after decision by the legislature in Raleigh seems aimed at worsening the situation for struggling North Carolinians.
Our food banks here are struggling to keep up. Please help if you can this holiday season.
The $5 billion cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will affect 47.7 million people, one out of every seven Americans. A family of four will lose $36 a month in food assistance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dropping from $668 to $632 a month.
In New York City, with 63 percent of pantries and kitchens reporting shortages, the cuts will add stress to an already strained system, says Triada Stampas, a spokesperson for Food Bank for New York City. That food bank, the nation’s largest, delivered 72 million meals last year. The organization calculates that across the five boroughs, SNAP cuts will mean that New Yorkers who get assistance will eat a total of 76 million fewer meals acquired with food stamps in the next year.
“We’ve been talking to private donors for months about these cuts,” said Stampas. “But I want to dispel the notion that private charity can make up for the cuts, that’s simply not possible.”
Food activists expect a “Hunger Cliff” on November 1, when automatic cuts to food stamp benefits will send a deluge of new hungry people to places like the River Fund Food Pantry, which are already strained.
“I thought we were busy now; I don’t know what it will be like then, because all of those people getting cut will definitely be accessing a pantry,” said Das. “It definitely will be a catastrophe.”
This crisis has gone largely unreported, and now it’s at our door.
According to the Off the Charts blog interactive map, in North Carolina 1,708,000 people will be affected, including 758,000 children, 285,000 elderly or disabled.
It’s been a few weeks, and your Asheville City Council is coming together again to deliberate and decision-make. This Tuesday we’ve got a big consent agenda, a report from the School Board, five public hearings zoning and development rules, and several various new business items. We took the October 8th meeting off due to the Mayoral Primary election, so there’s lots to do.
Have a look at the entire agenda after the jump, or click here to see it at the City’s website. Please offer your thoughts in the comments.
Please remember that early voting has begun for Mayor and City Council members. You can click here to see locations and hours of operation for early voting. Thank you for being a part of deciding Asheville’s future.
From Think Progress:
Emergency food pantries say they will have to do more with less, thanks to the government shutdown. Food banks across the country are bracing for the suspension of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs, which have become increasingly important to feed the needy.
As private donations dried up during the recession, the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Commodity Assistance Programs have helped charities and non-profits keep their inventories stocked. The USDA warned Monday that federal funds will halt until Congress strikes a deal, leaving food banks wondering if they should start planning for food shortages.
About 800,000 federal employees have been sent home. Analysts say the shutdown means a reduction in collective American income of about $200 million per day. Communities near national parks are expected to lose $76 million a day in visitor spending. In Yosemite National Park, lodges and cabins had been scheduled to be filled to near capacity. Instead, thousands of visitors were given 48 hours to leave.
From ye olde email inbox:
Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps—a vital support for low-income families and children, that lifted 4 million people out of poverty in 2012—is yet again on the chopping block. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a nutrition-only farm bill, which would cut $40 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years, causing at least 4 million to 6 million vulnerable individuals to lose their food assistance, including 210,000 kids who will lose their school meals. These cuts would come on top of a benefit cut that will impact all SNAP participants beginning November 2013.
The nutrition-only farm bill would be devastating to families struggling with hunger as well as to the national economy—translating into about 1.5 billion lost meals for hungry families each year for the next 10 years, and 55,000 job losses in the first year alone. We can’t let that happen.
TAKE ACTION: Give us 5 minutes to call or write your Congressional representative TODAY!
We need your help to send a strong message to Congress to urge members of the House to vote against this harmful bill:
- Participate in Feeding America’s national call-in day today, September 17, by calling your member of Congress on this toll-free hotline: 866.456.8824.
- Enter your ZIP code here and email your member of Congress.
Take action today to stand with low-income families working to put food on the table.
Fresh, Easy, Affordable, Sustainable, and Tasty – That’s what FEAST stands for, and they’re giving you the opportunity to support their mission! Website here.
The mission of FEAST Asheville is to promote healthy eating choices and make them accessible to people of all income levels through hands on cooking classes that encourage and empower participants by teaching skills needed to make fresh, wholesome and tasty food.
All that eating raises money for one of Slow Food’s educational program, FEAST (Fresh Easy Affordable Sustainable Tasty), which serves 800 school children in Buncombe County every year. FEAST shows students how to incorporate fresh ingredients into their meals.
Feasting for FEAST takes place Thrursday, Sept. 12, from 6-9 p.m. More than a dozen restaurants, breweries and wine shops will provide samples. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $35 at the door.
Vendors include: All Souls Pizza, Ambrozia Bar and Bistro, Chorizo, Doubletree Catering – VIP only, Earthfare, Everyday Gourmet Catering, Farmer’s Daughter Catering, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Mayfel’s, MG Road, Sunny Point Cafe, The Junction, The Laughing Seed, The Cantina, True Confections, Beer provided by Oskar Blues Brewery and Burial Beer Co. – VIP only.
I hope to see all of you there!