My Dear Friends: CFJC is proud to co-host a historic cross-generational event in Vallejo, CA, this Saturday night, August 25th. David Hilliard (original member of the Black Panther Party) and Dr. Stan Oden of the Intercommunal Institute for Research and Social Change, Eric Holt-Giménez of Food First, Rita LeRoy of Loma Vista Farm, and Kelly Carlisle of Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project will discuss “Lessons of the ‘60s and 70’s for Today’s Leaders.” And speaking of lessons, CFJC staff travelled to D.C. last week to meet with one of our members, the Rural Coalition, and other partners in the Equity First caucus. So what lesson can we learn from this new collective effort of food system and policy groups, and why is CFJC so committed to the Equity First effort? Because, this is the effort that puts Equity First. Along with the Rural Coalition, Equity First is comprised of the Center for Social Inclusion, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The effort is funded by the Kellogg Foundation, and it is the first time CFJC has received a Kellogg grant. Let’s be clear. We enter this partnership with no illusions. Putting Equity First in food policy may be something that good people pay lip service to, but there is very little in food policy that demonstrates conviction. You’ll recall in my last column I wrote of House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) stating that the purpose of the Ag Committee Mark-up process was “to make cuts and find savings.” At CFJC, we disagree. It is our business, our role in Equity First, to champion and provide leadership for food and farm policy that puts people, and equitable environmental, conservation and economic solutions, first. In this newsletter you are introduced to CFJC videos, including excerpts of my comments at the Food and Community Conference in Asheville, NC. You can see another excerpt on our website. The point of these videos is to show what the hard conversations about Equity First can begin to look like. If we want a different—and better—kind of food policy, then we are going to have to learn to work together, differently. This is hard stuff. But what alternatives do we really have?
- A major political party now boasts a vice-presidential candidate who is the architect of a federal budget—already adopted by the House of Representatives—that cuts $134 billion in SNAP/food stamp benefits to 8-10 million real people.
- The House Ag Committee proposed Farm Bill cuts SNAP by $16.5 billion, eliminating food benefits for 280,000 children, or 2 million households including seniors and single parent households.
- Even the Senate approved Farm Bill cuts $4.5 Billion in SNAP benefits.
Is there any question that we need to re-boot the system? Now, more than ever, democracy is a participatory sport. Just casting a vote once every four years only gets us what we got. And for that, we all ought to be ashamed. CFJC is committed to working on your behalf, in partnership with you and your community, and your groups, to change the game. Somebody has to step up to lead the effort, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are fortunate to have the support of the Kellogg Foundation and the partners in our Equity First cluster, but truly, this is a path we have chosen to take no matter what the obstacles, or even if we lose friends along the way. If what we’ve said resonates at all, at any level, then please, re-commit yourself to working with us. This is the fight of the generation, what ever your personal age. If you are new to civic engagement, or if you believe you’ve let your dreams slip by, or if you have regrets that you didn’t speak up when you last had a chance, then this is second chance. CFJC has expanded in the last two years to include members and partners across the country. And all across the country we see an unrest, a yearning and aching for a better country, and better world. You are not alone. Once again, you can stay informed by linking to one of the organizational websites highlighted in this message, or by visiting the CFJC website, or better yet, contacting your Senator or representative’s office for updates. And to let them know that you are paying attention. Thank you in advance for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of our families. Thank you for caring, and for taking the time to make an effort. And yes, if you are able, please consider making a contribution to help CFJC continue working on your behalf. All the best.