In America, poverty doesn't always involve lacking enough money to eat or to pay the bills. Poverty often is the experience of viewing the affluent society.
Consider jewelry. A poor person, for lack of access, may covet gold or fine diamonds.
Here's a question: Are supposedly unbreakable diamonds all they're cracked up to be? Following is a short passage from the book Ad Nauseam, which examines the U.S. consumer mentality and in the process delves into the gaps between rich and poor:
"In the late 1800s, the Oppenheimer family established a diamond monopoly with its company, DuBeers. At the time, diamonds were practically worthless compared to other gems, but DuBeers set out to change that by limiting their supply, driving up the price.
"In the 1930s .... DuBeers turned its focus to marketing. The company gave Hollywood starlets hefty stones, arranged glamour photo shoots, and script-doctored movies to include scenes of jewelry shopping. .... And DuBeers visited high schools to teach girls about the value of diamonds.
"In 1947, DuBeers' ad agency came up with the massively successful slogan, '˜A diamond is forever,' which implied that diamonds don't crack, break, or lose value. They do, but it needn't have mattered. Thanks to clever marketing, the diamond came to symbolize true love and diamond rings became an inseparable part of courtship and marriage."
One might logically ask, if all this is true, why would a poor person care about jewelry? As they used to call it when we were young and in school: Peer pressure. Sad, but true.
We are hearing that the federal poverty rate of 14.3 percent in the highest since the 1960s.
Before criticism is directed at President Barack Obama, however, consider these points:
1) Obama fought to extend unemployment benefits, but an individual who receives $300 still heads a family in poverty. $300 per week equals $15,000 per year. The federal poverty income is about $20,000 for a family of four.
2) Obama pushed to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Anyone lucky enough to get full-time hours in the minimum wage economy still is bringing home a scant $290 per week .... again, below the poverty level.
These folks may officially remain in poverty under Obama, but they would be in far worse shape if he had not been elected president. Health care legislation eventually will bring them into the system as well.
To feed the poor in Detroit, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen doesn't just look for cash and canned good donations.
The 2-acre Earthworks urban farm that surrounds the soup kitchen facility provides plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some of the 460-ton harvest goes on the plates of the soup kitchen's 100 daily patrons. Other portions of the produce are given to family's in need. Sales to support the project are made on site and at downtown's Eastern Market.
Earthworks expanded in 2001 and began working with the Wayne County Department of Heath, which oversees the federal Women Infant and Children (WIC) food program. One aspect of WIC is Project FRESH, which encourages parents to serve their children fresh fruits and vegetables rather than unhealthy fast food and snacks. In this respect, produce from the Earthworks farm is helping to combat child obesity.
Should all schools serve breakfast in this way to reduce childhood hunger?
Watch the video for more info and tell us your thoughts in the comment section.
by Linda St.Cyr, Contributing Writer
September is the month to get involved and feel inspired by joining Hunger Action Month. Feeding America has launched a “30 ways in 30 days” initiative to get people involved in making a difference during hunger awareness month.
September is the month to take action. A good start to taking action this month is by signing the pledge to participated in 30 ways in 30 days at the Hunger Action Month website. Then explore the different ways you can make a difference in the lives of the community around you. Find one way or several ways that you can help feed the hungry during this important month where we fight to stomp out domestic hunger.
A few of the ideas provided by Hunger Action Month include giving to food pantries, setting up a food drive, writing letters to elected officials about the importance of food programs, and making donations to local food bank programs. If you decide to give to food pantries or hold a food drive keep in mind that there are some foods that are more needed than others. Cheeto’s and Dorito’s are nice snacks but feeding the hungry means also providing good nutrition too.
Some of the most needed foods are canned protein’s (tuna fish, salmon, potted meat, chicken), canned fruits in water or light syrup, condiments, whole grain foods (rice, pasta, mac & cheese), 100% juices, dry and canned soups, canned vegetables and multi-grain cereals like Cheerios.
Will you be joining in Hunger Action Month? Leave a comment below and tell us what you will be doing to make a difference and help the fight against domestic hunger.
by Linda St.Cyr, Contributing Writer
On September 9th, Morgan Stanley launched a new campaign to fight against childhood hunger by partnering with Feeding America. The new campaign is called "Fill the Plate" and targets combating hunger during the weekends and after-school hours when children are most at risk of hunger
The partnership between Morgan Stanley and Feeding America is intended to strengthen and expand Feeding America's BackPack Program. The BackPack Program is designed for children to easily and discreetly give children access to nonperishable, nutritious foods. The backpacks are filled with foods and then distributed to children on the last day before the weekend or holiday vacation from school. According to Feeding America, during the fiscal year of 2009 over 190,000 children were served and over 3.7 million backpacks were distributed because of the backpack program. With the help of Morgan Stanley's "Fill the Plate" campaign, the hope is that the number of packs distributed will increase another 25% with more than 900,000 children being served by the end of 2014.
Morgan Stanley launched "Fill the Plate" on its 75th anniversary renewing their ongoing commitment to children's health issues and community service. President and CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman, said of the partnership,
"Good nutrition is essential for children's success in school and throughout life.We look forward to partnering with Feeding America, an organization that knows how to make a genuine impact in communities across the U.S."
Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America, said of the partnership with the leading global financial services firm, "We applaud and welcome Morgan Stanley to the frontline in our continued fight to end hunger within our lifetime."
This is not the first program Morgan Stanley has stood firmly behind. In the past 50 years, The Morgan Stanley Foundation has advocated, campaigned, initiated projects and/or given non-profits grant funding. Some of the projects and non-profits supported by Morgan Stanley include the Global Alliance for Children's Health, the Million Meals Summer Program, Grow Clinics, Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program (SAVI), Renewable Energy Projects, the Carbon Disclosurer Project and Education scholarships, internship and career development.