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Last Week in Poverty: Food Policy, EITC Expansion and Financial Security for All

Here is Greg Kauffman's overview of efforts across the states to thwart poverty this week.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Zurijeta


The following article first appeared on the  Nation.com. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for their email newsletters  here.

This is what a real food policy conversation looks like: In contrast to the rubbish that passes for a conversation about food and hunger in  Congress, last week’s  Forum on the Future of Food in New York City offered substantive talk from six mayoral candidates about how to create a healthier, fairer, more sustainable and economically stronger food system. Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, John Liu, Sal Albanese, Anthony Weiner and John Catsimatidis all participated; William Thompson was a late cancellation due to an unspecified emergency.

The forum was moderated by Marion Nestle, an award-winning author and the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Over 730 people packed the auditorium and two overflow rooms, 1,300 people watched the live webcast and #nycfoodforum trended nationally.

The candidates discussed a range of issues and ideas, including: utilizing 5,000 acres of unused land within the city limits for urban farming; ensuring living wages for food workers—14 percent are currently on food stamps, and 90 percent earn below a living wage; boosting school meals—including universal breakfast in the classroom, and grab-and-go carts—to reduce child hunger; revamping city procurement to promote local and regional agriculture; incentivizing green markets to operate in more low-income neighborhoods and establishing transparent benchmarks on SNAP participation, free school meals, urban farming etc. to measure concrete progress in the effort to improve the food system.

“The food movement here is strong enough to have gotten six candidates to show up, take it seriously and answer questions,” said Nestle. “Don’t lose the momentum. This is just the beginning.”

“The massive turn out and heavy media coverage for this event should be a wake-up call to our national leaders,” said Joel Berg, executive director of  New York City Coalition Against Hunger, one of twelve organizations that co-hosted the forum. “The reality is that the food and hunger movements are growing in political power and will hold politicians accountable for their actions on these issues.”

ACLU v. Morgan Stanley, on behalf of black homeowners in Detroit: A judge ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) can move forward with its  case alleging that Morgan Stanley discriminated against black homeowners in Detroit, financing high-risk, predatory loans in economically vulnerable neighborhoods. The lawsuit is the first to connect racial discrimination to the securitization of mortgage-backed securities. The ACLU is also calling on the Department of Justice to investigate whether other Fair Housing Act claims are available to hold other Wall Street banks accountable.

‘Where You Grow Up Matters’: (via Theresa Riley at  BillMoyers.com) “A new study shows that your potential for climbing the income ladder in the United States is largely dependent on your hometown. ‘Where you grow up matters,’ Harvard economist and study author Nathaniel Hendren told The New York Times. ‘There is tremendous variation across the US in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.’

“Geography matters much less for the children of well-off parents—who tend to do well across the board—but for those at the bottom of the ladder, growing up in poor neighborhoods in Atlanta or Chicago often means that the chances of achieving higher incomes later in life are significantly lessened.”  Read more here.

ACCESS to Financial Security for All: Launched by PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity,  ACCESS to Financial Security for All is designed to help advocates, policymakers and organizations share information, learn about promising policies, connect with allies and advance progressive policies to close the racial wealth gap and promote financial security for all. The site provides information on the latest research, recent media coverage and blog posts, and events from the asset-building field—all with the goal of promoting solutions to the racial wealth gap.