Category Archives: Poverty

Sherman Alexie on poverty

I really enjoyed reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a few weeks ago.


…we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams. We don’t get those chances. Or choices. We’re just poor. That’s all we are.

It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly circle and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor. (p 13)

Continue reading

Help Save The Youth of America

I was a fan of Billy Bragg before I started grad school, but I only knew Mermaid Avenue and Reaching to The Converted. My first semester I was jamming with a friend in my program who was from The Czech Republic by way of Canada, and he played me this song.

Since then, pretty much every time I see someone sleeping in the street–while in Brazil, while in downtown Portland, wherever–I think of this verse:

A nation with their freezers full
Are dancing in their seats
While outside another nation
Is sleeping in the streets

There’s just something about the image that stuck with me.

Full lyrics here.

Rev. Barber on implementation

Rev. Dr. Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, has a recent piece in The Nation entitled How to Build a Powerful People’s Movement: If we can do it in North Carolina, don’t tell me we can’t do it across America. It’s a great piece, filled with interesting examples of effective rhetoric, such as borrowing language from The Declaration of Independence when describing The Civil Rights Movement:

For the next fourteen years [following Brown v. Board of Education], young and old, rich and poor, white, black and brown risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to repair the breach in God’s human race.

I’ve been writing a lot about implementation lately since that ended up being a major focus of my research. So this passage jumped out at me: Continue reading

SNAP match at farmers market

A while back I promised to post about my new job at the South Waterfront Farmers Market. Now that we’re into July it means I’ve been working there almost a month! I’ve really enjoyed it for the chance to meet people, learn new things, and spend time in a cool environment. Moving heavy stuff is good exercise, too.

One of the coolest things to see is people using the SNAP (food stamp) match. Each week we match up to $5 (i.e. $3 becomes $6, $5 becomes $10, $10 becomes $15, etc.). People really appreciate the program.

Last week The Oregonian had an article about it. It quotes Katie Furia from Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon. PHFO has a blog post about the article here. This made me remember a good article in The Nation from 2011 called Food Stamps for Good Food.

Info on Mexico’s anti-hunger card

Mexico’s Crusade Against Hunger (Cruzada Nacional Sin Hambre) recently posted this info-graphic on its Twitter:


It says that beneficiaries can receive the following 14 products: oats, beans, rice, corn, cornmeal, chiles, tuna, sardines, flour, chocolate, oil, coffee, eggs, and powdered milk at DICONSA stores (the poster depicts a mobile one).  It says their monthly value would be 638 pesos, which at today’s rates comes to about 50 U.S. dollars and that the products were selected for the nutritional value.

Unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

On Monday the New York Times had an article called Economic Recovery Yields Few Benefits for the Voters Democrats Rely On. It’s not surprising that it frames things in terms of electoral impact, given the primary elections the next day. What struck me about the piece was the passages about unemployment measures. Two frequent, and long-standing criticisms, are that the official measures don’t include people who have given up looking for work or are working part time but want full time work.

It looks at the case of women: Continue reading

TEFAP action alert from Oregon Food Bank

I volunteered at the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services in Carrboro, NC during most of my time in graduate school, doing Spanish language intakes and packing bags of groceries. So I saw first hand what a difference TEFAP makes. I’m sure that without it we would have had to give each family less food. So I’m happy that people are organizing in defense of the program and to be able to pass on this action alert.

Info with how to call, etc. is after the break.

Dear Russell,

As we wrote to you a few weeks ago, Congress is in the process of deciding the amount that will be dedicated to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) storage and distribution funds for federal fiscal year 2015. TEFAP is the U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides U.S. grown food to food banks, along with financial assistance to store and distribute food. While Congress can fund up to $100 million for TEFAP storage and distribution, it has provided only about half of this in recent years.

The congressional appropriations process is now in full swing and Appropriations Committees are making final decisions. Committee meetings are expected as soon as next week. So right now we have an important opportunity to help food banks across Oregon and the country receive additional funding and we need your help. Continue reading