Category Archives: Welfare

Book of the month: All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?

This month’s pick, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America is a recommendation from shani-o who writes: “In the book, Berg touches on the role racism has played in starvation of both whites and blacks in the 60s, notes the varying policies presidential administrations have enacted to fight hunger, and gives an excellent primer on food stamps and welfare reform.

He goes on to challenge the notion that individuals and organized charities are the viable solutions, and insists that government programs are the only way to give poor people the stability they need to focus on education and work, so they can eventually enter the middle class. Berg also discussed the term  ‘food insecurity’ (also known as ‘hunger’) in the U.S.”

An article on Berg in the Philadelphia Inquirer described ‘food insecurity’ as “the lack of access to enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life.”

Berg is the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and previously worked for the Clinton Administration where he was the Community Coordinator of Community Food Security for the USDA.

We will be discussing the book on September 15. Check out Berg’s website and read an excerpt of the book.

Happy Reading.

Digging in The Crates: The Marriage Cure.

Sooner Haven in Oklahoma City.*

Kim Henderson and Corean Brothers are good friends who live in Sooner Haven, housing projects plopped into northeast Oklahoma City. They are — for lack of a better adjective — amazing. Kim Henderson was the rare young woman in her world who made it to her twenties with no children. Corean Brothers was a divorcee in her 40’s who managed to be a doting, attentive mother to her five young children, who all miraculously turned out alright considering their considerable disadvantages.

Anyway. The Bush administration allocated federal money to go to programs that were intended to boost marriage rates among the poor, after policy thinkers from all over the political spectrum decided that marriage had a stabilizing effect on neighborhoods. And, as it turned out, both Kim and Corean were looking for husbands. So they began attending marriage seminars paid for with the new federal money at a nearby church. The seminars were fun and harrowing; the quotidian realities and indignities of life for these two unflappable women and the other women in their group — there are, tellingly, no men in attendance at these sessions — made the idea of marriage simultaneously an encumbrance to be viewed suspiciously and a longed-for pipe dream.

Their stories were spotlighted in Katherine Boo‘s 2003 New Yorker piece called “The Marriage Cure,” which won the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2004 and is probably the best long-form magazine writing I’ve ever read. I’m importuning you to read it. More…