|Perry Jones talks about Heifer’s role in the summit.
This September 28-29, Heifer International, the City of Little Rock and Little Rock Serves will present the 2011 Little Rock Healthy Food and Active Living Summit, hosted by Philander Smith College. Today, on the rotunda steps of Little Rock’s City Hall, Mayor Mark Stodola announced Little Rock’s continued commitment through the summit to focusing on increased access to affordable, nutritious foods.
The summit will bring together national and local thought leaders, including our own USA Country Program Director Perry Jones, for panels and presentations on topics like:
- Developing and Implementing Local Food Shed Policies that will Lead to Improved Food Access;
- Social Justice and Food Access;
- Recruiting Full Service Grocery: Tools for Attracting Healthy Food Retail to Underserved Neighborhoods;
- Why Breastfeeding, Baby’s First Food, is a Critical Health Issue in Arkansas;
- Why Race and Place a in Community Health; and
- Community Organizing Strategies for Food Policy Change.
Keynote Speakers will include Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Deputy Director of PolicyLink Mary Lee, JD; Surgeon General for the State of Arkansas and Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH; and Tyler Norris, social entrepreneur.
I’m excited to attend the (free!) summit, and I’m glad Heifer is joining the conversation. Though our name says “International,” we must recognize the poverty in our own backyard. There are children and families in our local community and state who don’t get enough healthy food to eat. Many factors contribute to this sad situation, so I think it’s good we have so many voices coming to the table at the summit. Hunger and poverty are solvable problems, especially in a state as fertile as Arkansas.
Record High Poverty Numbers in the U.S.
Poverty and Children in the United States
A Deeper Look at Child Poverty in the United States
Posts on local food
With a new report about poverty in America out this week, our discussion of the situation is far from over. Just a month
ago we were discussing how 1 in 5 children were living in poverty
in the U.S. This week the U.S. Census Bureau
released its report that stated 46.2 million people were living in poverty in 2010. The nation’s poverty
increased to 15.1 percent in 2010 up from 14.3 percent in 2009. According to the bureau this is the highest level of poverty since 1993.
The three states with the highest poverty rates were Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia. Mississippi had the highest percentage of poor people at 22.7 percent. At the lowest end was New Hampshire with 6.6 percent.
Households that have “doubled up” (additional adult) rose to 21.8 million, up 2 million since 2007.
- Working-age people between 18 and 64 saw a rise in poverty to 13.7 percent from 12.9 percent last year.
- Black poverty climbed to 27.4 percent from 25.8 percent in 2009, and Latino poverty reached 26.6 percent, up from 25.3 percent in 2009.
With nearly 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty and millions still struggling what do you think it will take for the U.S. to recover?
Photo from Flickr/StevenBrisson. Creative Commons.
“Hunger in America is complicated. It’s not just getting enough food, but getting the right food — and making the right choices.”
That’s the premise of a two-part NPR story on hunger and poverty in America
. The author spends time with the Williamsons, a Pennsylvania family of five who live below the poverty line. As they exhibit, hunger not a simple issue. The Williamsons’ 8-year-old son, for example, looks chubby, but the calories he consumes are not nutritious. Why? Because those empty, nutrition-scarce calories (i.e., junk food) are cheaper than healthier foods.
“You can get leaner cuts of meat, but then they’re more expensive,” [Connie Williamson] says. “You can get fresh fruit every couple of days and blow half of your budget on fresh fruits and vegetables in a week’s time, easy.”
But, you argue, wouldn’t a garden with fresh vegetables solve everything? The Williamsons live in an apartment complex, and yet they still do find a place for a small garden. But a garden doesn’t balance out the cheap, sugary snacks and drinks available to kids.
All of this is part of a larger trend of food insecurity, especially among children. The number of children living in households where getting enough food to eat was a challenge hit a staggering 17 million in 2008, a more than 30 percent jump, year-over-year, according to NPR.
So what are the poor in America to do? Should they refrain from buying the empty calories, even though that’s what is available in their price range? Should kids be learning better eating habits at school as well as at home? Or have healthy, whole foods become a status symbol, only available to those who live in the right areas and with enough money?