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.

Heifer International's "Seeds of Change" to Help Small Farmers, Nutrition, & Environment

Posted on June 29, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Heifer International’s new “Seeds of Change” initiative will help organize and provide resources to help small and mediim-scale farmers, improve nutrition, help fight hunger and poverty, and promote environmentally friendly agricultural practices in the east Arkansas Delta.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus disseminates information about “best practices” and role models for economic and community development, and this is another example of Heifer International’s innovative and constructive work for our region.

Below is a message from Tamidra Marable, Heifer’s Project Manager based in Arkansas, about the new “Seeds of Change” initiative. Ms. Marable gave an excellent presentation at the May 5-6, 2011 Delta conference at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. As former US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater often says, “Find the good and praise it,” and in that spirit we would like to send out this message about Heifer’s work in the Delta–Lee Powell, MDGC

(If you would like more information about this project please contact Tamidra Marable at Heifer at or phone at 501-907-4957)


The “Seeds of Change Initiative” in Arkansas will help to organize and provide resources and support for local communities to fight hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. This outcomes-driven project will help broad-based community coalitions design and implement community-owned food systems to provide sustainable livelihoods within the food system—especially among women and minority populations; improve access to locally-grown, healthy food for low-income people; and improve the environment by implementing responsible agricultural practices. The project will specifically target high-need populations in the Arkansas Delta.

Heifer USA will be facilitating and building the capacity for collaboration among key partners. There will be emphasis placed on increasing the number and the sustainable productive capacity of small and medium-scale farmers. With partners, this project will work within the value chain to create and support the establishment and sustainability of community food enterprises linking small and medium-scale farmers to diverse markets. Limited resource families will have increased access to, and the ability to influence the quality and availability of, local, healthy food within their own communities. Education and awareness-raising as well as public policy work are also key strategies as part of realizing long-term, systemic change.


Across the world the standard indicator for extreme poverty is earning less than one or two dollars a day. In the United States there is an equal comparison; families living in poverty are surviving on the salary equivalent to $9.83 an hour, which is actually higher than the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Calculations for what is considered a living wage for a family of four across the area of intervention for this project show that approximately $24.33 an hour is required just to cover basic needs such as food, shelter, education, transportation and healthcare.1

Here in the United States, a child is born into poverty every 27 seconds.2 Data from the USDA suggests that this results in 1 of 5 children being food insecure, meaning that at any time during the year, a child is hungry because of the household’s lack of money and other resources for food.3 Additionally, the leading causes of death among Americans—heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers directly linked to poor nutrition—are rapidly on the rise.


Through this project, Heifer USA will…

· Work with vulnerable and marginalized populations who lack access to resources, services or opportunities, setting them on a path first to being less vulnerable and relatively food secure, and then to being resilient, sustainable and linked to markets, recognizing that being vulnerable and marginalized is not one of choice, but the result of historical events, economic disparities, social inequalities and injustice.

· Create critical mass, i.e., work with more members of communities, doing enough on the ground to help set the community development process in motion, assuring greater impact that goes beyond Heifer and optimizes the value and potential of scarce resources.

· Partner with governments, private sector organizations, other non-profits, coalitions and networks as components of critical mass that delivers programs and services.

· Define the path to greater empowerment, building social capital, disaster management and will integrate value chains in its values based development model with a clear plan for Passing On the Gift, which is the sharing of resources gained in project activities to others in the community.

· Increase in income and assets, improvement of nutrition and health, improvement of the environment, and building social capital, e.g. community organization and empowerment, networks and coalitions, gender equity, youth empowerment etc.

· Achieve multiple levels of impact that will include positive changes on social capital, gender equity, nutrition and income, economic development, environment, as well as individual and community transformation.