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.

Childhood Nutrition, Job Creation Urged at EEC/Delta News Event, Dec. 2 in Washington, DC

Posted on December 03, 2015 at 02:04 PM

The Delta 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 at a Dec. 2 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Key speakers were Members of Congress and national nutrition and economic equality organizations.

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) held a dialogue on key legislative issues with senior executives from national nutrition and economic policy organizations including Feeding America, the Delta Grassroots Caucus, the Congressional Hunger Center, the Housing Assistance Council, Bread for the City, DC Central Kitchen.

Lee Powell and Kay Goss hosted the event for the Economic Equality Coalition and the Delta Caucus.

May 11-12, 2016 national Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC: The group announced that our economic policy advocates across the country, representatives from the major Presidential campaigns and Members of Congress from both parties will hold a national Economic Equality Coalition conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 11-12, 2016.

Childhood Nutrition Re-Authorization: “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 grassroots advocates from across the country believe the recovery has been far too slow for economically distressed regions of the country, and hunger and poverty levels are still much too high. In one representative comment, Rep. Mark McElroy from southeast Arkansas informed us that “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.”

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.”

Speakers included Lee Powell, Kay Goss and:

–Feeding America’s senior policy analyst, Robert Campbell;

–Shannon Maynard, Executive Director of the Congressional Hunger Center;

–Moises Loza, Executive Director of the national Housing Assistance Council;

–CEO Micheal Curtin, DC Central Kitchen;

–CEO George A. Jones of Bread for the City.

Robert Campbell, senior policy analyst for Feeding America, said Boozman is “really addressing the major gaps in summer feeding [programs],” and his legislation would have “a huge impact.” Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks, will be able to help more people if Boozman succeeds, Campbell said. “These … new provisions would allow us to get into those areas that are not served, that are underserved, where it’s so hard for families to have access.” Campbell was one of the key speakers and was quoted in an article by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the Dec. 2 news conference.

Under current federal rules, children usually have to travel to central locations to get their meals. and eat them before leaving. Schools are feeding centers, and consequently it’s easy to give free breakfasts and lunches when during the school year. But at other times many children can’t get the meals because they have no transportation. Sen. Boozman’s Senate Bill 1966 would allow greater flexibility. A feeding program, for example, could offer “takeout” meals or deliver them to the children’s homes.

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, Baltimore, St. Louis/Ferguson (MO), Memphis, 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 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.

Cornel Martin, president of Delta Queen Steamboat Company in New Orleans, spoke on behalf of his efforts to get the famous river boat traveling again. He announced plans to make all the necessary renovations and updates needed to get the boat traveling to places from New Orleans and Natchez, Vicksburg, Helena-West Helena, Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Memphis, Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Davenport, Iowa, and east to Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio and West Virginia.

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