This morning I was thinking of the 50th Anniversary of the Birmingham bombing that killed four little girls, when I learned that 13 people were killed in Washington, D.C., where a gunman (maybe three) entered the Navy Yard near Capitol Hill and opened fire.
Hours later the House Nutrition Bill was released, including a provision to exclude food stamp recipients from receiving cash for the return of bottles and cans as one means of cutting $40 billion in SNAP (food stamps) benefits, and you have to ask yourself, really?
How did we get to this point, anyway? But while we discuss the issues, we also have to act now.
You can follow the House Rules Committee to learn more about how the House will consider the Nutrition Bill here, and this is important—will they limit debate? Consider amendments? Ram through cuts to food for children, single parents, and the disabled and elderly?
Back to other issues, and context.
I think we have to acknowledge the violence which surely affects our collective psyche, even as we all try to do our best to live responsible lives.
In addition to the unnecessary tragedies above, we are also on the verge of another war, this time in Syria, and when children enter high school this fall they represent a generation born and raised in a country at perpetual war. They have never lived in a time of peace.
You might think the magnitude of the issues is overwhelming.
But I think not.
Maybe we are not ready yet to march on Washington to stop warring.
And maybe thousands more will have to be killed in our communities before we enact and enforce strict gun control laws.
But, when you take steps, or even one step to take back our food system, it has a rippling effect on the construct of a country perpetually at war, with policies that favor corporations over people, and where we are even now entertaining a discussion of taking away Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from our children and needy populations to the tune of $40 billion.
In Lori Silverbush’s movie, “A Place at the Table,” Jeff Bridges says that maybe things have to get this bad before people in the U.S. will stand up to the issues of poverty and hunger. He also says that feeding our people is the patriotic thing to do.
So that is what you can do, right now, and every day. Demonstrate a different way of life. Become a food soldier, and make feeding our children and needy populations a top priority in your day to day lives.
Call your Senator or Member of Congress, every day if need be, they take messages. Let them know that you are watching, and demand, respectfully, that they do the right thing for our families—feed our children, single parents, the disabled and elderly.
And don’t forget to say you want a full and fair Farm Bill.
So that farmers and other producers can make a living; so that food workers at every level can also make a living; so that our local communities can grow and become self sustaining, instead of having food dollars and resources siphoned out of the community, and into the coffers of big ag, and bigger corporations.
It is time.
For nearly three years I have heard well-meaning people say, “If Congress goes through with that, people will take to the streets.” Those people were always referring to the latest crazy shenanigans from Congress. And you know what? Congress has been riding roughshod over our communities, and I have yet to see “people…take to the streets.”
But we cannot wait for that to happen.
Make today the first day that you take a personal stand against the madness of senseless violence and national priorities that take food from our families, and resources from our communities.
Next week Christina and I will be in Washington, D.C., working in partnership with the Rural Coalition and other GOAT (Getting Our Act Together) groups, and no doubt participating in some press events to shine light on the House Nutrition Bill, and overall Farm Bill activities.
We could use some help.
So please, contact your Representatives.
And send help directly to CFJC as well. Please give what you can, as you continue to join with us in the grand struggle to take back our food system.
It truly is an effective first step to changing everything.
I should also point out, if you look at the front page of our website, Courtney has placed an indicator of how donations are coming in during this latest fund appeal. On behalf of everyone involved with CFJC, she made what I think is incredibly modest in terms of a fundraising goal. Yet, if you view the CFJC Summer Fund Appeal gauge, in the right hand corner of the website homepage, you can see she has received only about $100.
People, lets all lend a hand.
I told her I’d be happy to make phone calls if necessary. But please don’t make me do so, because you need me to be working on behalf of you, not calling to ask for money.
And besides, we need more from you. In addition to money, we also encourage you to share your story of the efforts you are making for change, no matter how small; calling a Senator, growing a tomato, or anything.
Or tell us what you see taking place in your community or elsewhere to change the way we are beginning to build healthy communities. To take back control of our environment.
Maybe then we will have the courage to re-engage in the democratic process and hold our legislators responsible for all the issues.
To be sure, Representatives Barbara Lee, Marcia Fudge, and many others have always been working on social, economic, and food justice issues. Let’s give them a hand, even as we encourage more representatives to come on board.
On behalf of staff, the CFJC Steering Committee, and all our wonderful interns and volunteers, thank yo so much for you support, and continued involvement in the issues.
All the best.
Y. Armando Nieto