The city’s food bank has created a program that will try to help alleviate hunger by bringing healthy habits back to the classroom and hopefully, back home with students as well. NY1′s Roger Clark filed the following report.

It’s a twist on the Food Bank for New York’s BackPack Program, which provides kids at this after school program with fresh produce and healthy foods for the weekend and holidays, when reduced price school lunches and breakfasts are not available. Here the children get to pick their own groceries, learning how to shop for food that’s good for them.

“Provide children with choices, and do it in a way that’s constructive, in a way that also emphasizes nutrition education, fitness, and ties it all together as part of what we need to really combat childhood hunger,” says Carlos Rodriguez of Food Bank for NYC.

Which remains a big problem in the five boroughs. The Food Bank says almost one third of the children in the city live below the federal poverty level – about one in five rely on emergency food programs.

Read entire report by Roger Clark.

The above story makes me very happy. I like the way they mix nutrition education with food assistance at the schools.

The poverty trap creates a devastating cycle in which children born into poverty never receive the necessities to develop into self-sufficient adults, leaving them destined for a life of poverty. The following statistic demonstrates it: 50% of United States children born into poverty remain in poverty for their entire lives.

On the upside, programs and initiatives such as the one mentioned in the story above help break the poverty cycle. I hope to see many more of them.

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The People’s Daily Online reports about about the 4th World Congress of Rural Women:

Illiteracy, hunger, abuse and other challenges confronting rural women around the world will become focal issues at an international conference late next month in South Africa, a South African official said on Thursday.

About 2,000 delegates from around the world will also discuss the development of rural women during the 4th World Congress of Rural Women in Durban in the last week of April, said Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana.

Xingwana said the congress would focus on solutions and strategies to enable sustainable rural development, the official BuaNews reported.

The minister said the congress would bring together rural women of the world from different backgrounds to share with each other and learn from each other’s experiences.

South Africa was chosen because of the country’s leading role in issues of gender, transformation and the recognition of human rights, Xingwana said.

Read entire article.

A global collection of people coming together as such strikes the perfect collaboration of their differences and similarities. These rural women can use their differing experiences to share ideas, and come up with collaborative ways to fix their common problems.

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David Cronin writes about a delaration to drive back poverty:

The 50th anniversary of the European Union has been marked by a declaration committing the 27-country bloc to “drive back poverty, hunger and disease” throughout the world.

“While the 50th anniversary is surely a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on one of the underlying reasons for the formation of the EU: the commitment of the nations of Europe to the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity,” said Lotte Leicht, the EU director with Human Rights Watch.

“After the horrific crimes of the Holocaust, the world vowed ‘never again’. But that vow seems terribly empty in view of what is happening today in Darfur.”

Read entire article by David Cronin.

As the title of Cronin’s article says, the poor need more than a declaration. Sadly, it appears that they won’t get that.

Hitherto, most policies of most western European nations have fostered neo-liberal colonialism and exploitation. For example, the Common Agricultural Policy undermines the food markets in poor countries by flooding them with cheap imports.

Instead of pushing poverty back, the West pushes it forward. Despite their claims otherwise, I doubt the EU actually plans to fight poverty, especially since their economic structure makes their success dependent on the exploitation of poor countries.

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I live in Connecticut, so I especially noticed a recent article in The Daily Campus about a local hunger workshop called Hunger 101. I include an excerpt of the article:

It is a common misconception that hunger is more of a global than a local issue, but roughly 100,000 people in Connecticut suffer from food insecurity. Of these 100,000 people, 40,000 are children.

Tuesday night ConnPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) held a Hunger 101 workshop in the Student Union to raise hunger awareness. The leaders of the workshop were employees from Foodshare, a regional food bank that distributes to Hartford and Tolland Counties. Foodshare distributes 11 tons of food to 40 locations (including daycares, food pantries and soup kitchens) on a daily basis. Foodshare operates with the assistance of about 1,800 volunteers.

The Hunger 101 workshop is presented locally to different schools and universities, faith communities and companies. There are several different versions of the workshop, each altered to cater to their respective audience. Hunger 101′s aim is to find a way to explain to middle class citizens how people fall into poverty and into situations with low food security.

Read entire article by Danielle Hoo.

I think explaining the local prevalence of hunger helps people to comprehend the horrifying reality of hunger.

When people think of hunger, poverty, and homelessness as simply a so-called “global problem”, they may look at it with the same disconnected apathy with which they view fictional movies and such. In contrast, when they realize the effect these social ills have on their own lives and their own communities, then they address these issues as real problems.

Additionally, we can fight hunger locally. We can do it right at home.

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Vice President of India, Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat calls poverty a blot on any civilized society. I post an excerpt of a press release on pib.nic.in:

Shri Shekhawat while releasing the book “Poverty and Hunger: Causes and Consequences” by Dr. Ratan Das, an eminent Gandhian and Sarvodaya leader said that success of any programme of poverty alleviation is intimately interlinked with the quality of public governance. Needs and aspirations of the poor and the deprived can be met only when the public administration becomes people-oriented, with a focus on the welfare of the common man. Reforms in public governance are fundamental to any strategy towards alleviation of poverty. He said that the efficacy index of our policies for development should be measured by the success achieved in alleviation of poverty and in increasing the access of the poor to basic education, healthcare and secured employment. That alone would usher in a just socio-economic order that brings cheer to the poor and the deprived.

Shri Shekhawat said that there is a wide-spread feeling that globalisation has not brought about intended economic benefits to the people. He said that the real content and elements of growth have to be inclusive of increase in employment opportunities and economic uplift of all sections of society. He stressed that growth does not just mean the percentage increase in GDP. We need growth that promotes development and brings down disparities by bridging the gap and divide between the rich and the poor.

Read entire press release on pib.nic.in.

I agree with Shri Shekhawat that the value of a government and society depends on how it treats all of its citizens, including the poor. However, I still believe the motto which says, “That government governs best which governs least.” I think the governments of the world can best relieve poverty simply by getting out of the way and stop contributing to the problem. The people of the world don’t need the government’s help to support themselves; they just need the government to stop holding them down by catering to the wealthy few who wish to retain undue wealth by oppressing the masses.

Currently, the major governments of the world work in cahoots with highly profitable megacorporations. These megacorporations use their profits to lobby and bribe politicians and thus use the coercive and violent powers of the government to rob the common-people. For example, by giving politicians a cut, military companies get profitable multi-billion dollar contracts paid with taxpayer dollars; while working-class people die in needless wars. In another example, the private-owned prison industry supports the war on drugs so that they can make profits while non-violent working-class people get thrown in jail and working-class taxpayers get robbed.

We don’t need government to end poverty, hunger, and other social problems. We can do that ourselves. The wealthy leaches that make up the megacorporations need the coercive powers government to steal and leach off the hard-working masses of people. We can take care of ourselves and our communities; we just need to stop the governments from allowing these megacorporations to leech off us and our labor.

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Jeffrey D. Sachs recently wrote an article about extreme poverty:

Around one billion people live in extreme poverty, suffering from economic deprivation so severe that they must struggle daily for survival. Extreme poverty is sometimes defined as living on under $1 a day, but more accurately it is the lack of reliable access to basic needs, including adequate food, basic health services, safe drinking water and connectivity with the wider world (via roads, power and telecommunications).

Recent orthodoxy holds that extreme poverty results from corruption, mismanagement and weak institutions. A corollary is that institutional improvements take considerable time, so the escape from extreme poverty is likely to take decades. Without denying the benefit of stronger institutions, I suggest that excessive focus on institutional reforms has gotten the policy sequencing more wrong than right. Often, more direct aid can dramatically reduce extreme poverty in just a few years.

Read entire article by Jeffrey D. Sachs.

I highly recommend reading the entire article linked to above. Jeffrey Sachs wrote the well-known book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.

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Children suffering from Poverty