The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Hunger & Nutrition Expert Joel Berg to Speak at Clinton School, Nov. 5, 2009

Posted on October 20, 2009 at 03:56 PM

We would like to call your attention to the Thursday, November 5, 2009 presentation starting at 7 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas by Joel Berg, author of the critically acclaimed book, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? Mr. Berg is a former high-level Clinton administration appointee at USDA, currently executive director of the nonprofit New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and one of the most distinguished leaders in America in the fields of hunger and nutrition, community service, and a wide range of vital issues regarding the fight against poverty.

Mr. Berg has longstanding ties to the Delta, having conducted important anti-poverty and hunger activities in the Mississippi Delta region during the Clinton administration, and in recent years he has been generous with his time in providing advice and data about hunger and poverty to the Delta Grassroots Caucus. I worked with Mr. Berg in the Clinton administration and can attest to his impressive record on issues of great concern to the Delta Caucus.

The event is a reading and book signing at the Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock, Arkansas, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009 starting at 7 p.m., cosponsored by the Clinton School of Public Service–University of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas. From the Delta Caucus’ events at the Clinton School in the past you are familiar with what a great venue it is, and Joel Berg is a superb speaker. The event is free.

Given the tremendous importance of hunger and nutrition in the Delta and Mr. Berg’s longstanding interest in our region, we believe this event will be of great interest to many grassroots leaders in our coalition. Hunger and nutrition issues are always essential for the vast Mississippi Delta Region from southern Illinois to New Orleans, so we would encourage anyone who can make this event to do so.

I have read All You Can Eat and in my view it is one of the most important and insightful books on poverty and hunger in America since Michael Harrington’s landmark work, The Other America, which was published in 1962 and often credited with helping to provide part of the intellectual underpinnings for Medicaid, Medicare, and expanded federal nutrition programs. Joel Berg’s book reviews the recent history of hunger in America–with several important passages dealing with hunger in the Mississippi Delta region in the 1960s, when Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy and other leaders dramatized the plight of the hungry in our region. The book combines a superb intellect, political experience at a national level in the Clinton administration, leadership of a major nonprofit in New York, and a deep commitment to helping the neediest of the needy.

Joel Berg presents a series of ideas on how to eradicate the shame of hunger in our wealthy country. He is admirably objective, criticizing or commending the contributions of politicians of both parties based on the merits. While obviously a Democrat who gives credit where it is due to the likes of George McGovern, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, he also praises the anti-hunger work of Republican leaders such as Bob Dole and even Richard Nixon (GASP!!!). Contrary to cynical views of politics that it makes no difference which party or which leader is in power, Mr. Berg skillfully demonstrates that there indeed have been profound differences in leadership, policies, and their impact upon poverty and hunger in America.

Joel Berg does not shy away from facing the most controversial issues facing our society today, so you may not agree with all of his conclusions, but his ideas are always thought-provoking and creative.

In the Delta, we are all too familiar with the dilemma that in many areas, the most accessible food is a convenience store or a similar place where lower-income people buy fattening, artery-clogging fast food. So many of our problems in the Delta are related to poor nutrition and illnesses that are related to bad nutrition, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. We are also all too familiar with the unpleasant reality that the media and many politicians “discover” about once a year around Thanksgiving that we still have many people who do not have access to an affordable, nutritious diet. Our levels of food insecurity in the Delta are among the highest in the country, and Joel does a great job of challenging the public and the powers that be to make hunger eradication a top national priority and not just a once-a-year photo op.

We have many nonprofit organizations in our grassroots coalition, and I can assure you that Joel’s practical advice on how to be an effective advocate in the trenches of anti-poverty work is highly valuable. Based on his many years of experience, he provides wise counsel on how to be an effective nonprofit advocate. I know I have profited from his advice on that score, as well as from his many insightful ideas about hunger in America. If you buy a copy of his book on the website you will also be contributing to a worthy cause, because part of the proceeds go to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, a coalition of anti-hunger organizations in the New York City area.

For those of you who are interested in the book but are too far away to make the event in central Arkansas, go on the website to order Joel Berg’s book and at the same time make a contribution to the nonprofit New York City Coalition Against Hunger:

Thanks very much–Lee Powell, executive director, Delta Grassroots Caucus


Before becoming executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger in 2001, Berg served for eight years in the Clinton Administration in senior executive service positions at USDA. For two years, he worked as USDA Community Coordinator of Community Food Security, a new position, in which he created and implemented the first-ever federal initiative to better enable faith-based and other nonprofit groups to fight hunger, bolster food security, and help low-income Americans move from poverty to self-sufficiency.

He was USDA Coordinator of Food Recovery and Gleaning the previous two years, working with community groups to increase the amount of food recovered, gleaned, and distributed to hungry Americans. Also while at the USDA, he served as Director of National Service, Director of Public Liaison, and as acting Director of Public Affairs and Press Secretary. From 1989 to 1993, he served as a policy analyst for the Progressive Policy Institute and a domestic policy staff member for the President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition team.

Berg has published widely on the topics of hunger, national and community service, and grassroots community partnerships. A native of Rockland County, NY, and a 1986 graduate of Columbia University, Berg now resides in Brooklyn. He is the past winner of the US Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for Superior Service and the Congressional Hunger Center’s Mickey Leland National Hunger Fighter Award.