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.

Economic Equality news conference, Dec. 2 on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress Key Nonprofits

Posted on December 01, 2015 at 11:22 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Coalition, urged the major Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress to support key bipartisan bills on childhood nutrition, job creation, and opening trade to Cuba to expand exports, saying the recovery is still far too slow and poverty far too high for economically distressed populations across the country.

In an Economic Equality news conference on Capitol Hill at the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation, EEC senior partners held a dialogue with key Members of Congress including Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and national nutrition and economic policy organizations Feeding America, the Congressional Hunger Center, Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen, and the national Housing Assistance Council.

“Six years after the Great Recession officially ended, about one in five children across the country still lack full-time access to affordable, nutritious food. We need full funding for the Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization (CNR) bill for vital programs like school lunch, breakfast, summer meals, after-school and WIC,” said Lee Powell, EEC steering committee and Delta Caucus Director. “A strong CNR would be a major step in attacking this major problem.”

“The recovery sure ain’t arrived for us in our neck of the woods yet, because hunger and poverty are way too high here today,” said state Rep. Mark McElroy in a comment about southeast Arkansas in the Delta region.

Summer meals programs need to be expanded and streamlined, and on that subject Sen. Boozman has sponsored beneficial legislation for a summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card for $30 a month per child, as well as flexibility for states regarding centralized feeding sites, especially in rural areas.

While the national figures of one in five children being food insecure are disturbing, in distressed areas the situation is far worse: in USDA data for all families (not just children) in areas suffering from unusual economic inequality, Mississippi has the highest food insecurity at 22%, Arkansas is the second worst at 19.9%, Texas is at 17.2% and Ohio at 16.9%.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued a statement supporting the EEC efforts for childhood nutrition, saying “Every child in America deserves to grow up free from hunger and with access to opportunities like a quality education and safe communities, and I want to thank the Economic Equality Coalition and the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus for continuing to push these critical issues to the forefront of Congress’s attention.”

The EEC is a group of economic policy advocates in regions suffering from economic inequality, like the Delta, Appalachia, Midwest, Southwest Border, and inner cities in Washington, DC, St. Louis/Ferguson (MO) and New Orleans.

Expanding trade to Cuba: Rep. Crawford, Rep. Loebsack, and Sen. Boozman support bills to open farm trade to Cuba, a $2 billion market, expanding rice, poultry, wheat and other farm exports as well as health care and automotive products that would generate economic progress across the country. The embargo failed for 50 years, and it’s time for a change.

Job creation by infrastructure investments in transportation and housing: The highway bill is a golden opportunity to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure. The EEC urges quick passage of this long-delayed legislation.

We urge passage of tourism initiatives by legislation like the bill championed by Rep. Chabot, Rep. Crawford and Sen. Boozman to allow the historic steamboat the Delta Queen to resume her travels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers through much of the Midwest, Delta and Appalachia.

Passage would save a national historic icon, generate tourist dollars for the economy, and inform people about the great American legacy of the Mark Twain era of steamboating.

“Many on Capitol Hill are saying bipartisanship is making a comeback lately; if so they can prove it by passing CNR, jobs/infrastructure, tourism and trade to Cuba bills. That would be real action and not talk,” Powell said.

Speakers in addition to the Members of Congress included:

Kay Goss, Associate Director of FEMA for President Clinton, noted author and educator, who recently completed an extended trip to Cuba and gave us up to date observations about conditions in that country.

Robert Campbell, Feeding America’s senior policy analyst on Childhood Nutrition.

Shannon Maynard, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center.

CEO George A. Jones of Bread for the City, a nationally recognized nonprofit in the field of nutrition and economic development.

CEO Michael Curtin of the DC Central Kitchen, a nationally recognized nonprofit in the fields of nutrition and job training/creation.