Trump food program letter: Treat or trick?

Herb Strentz reports on how central Iowa food banks are handling an unprecedented letter from the president in boxes for the needy. -promoted by Laura Belin

Halloween will soon be upon us, and there is a “trick or treat” aspect to a flap involving President Donald Trump. I’m not referring to his planned campaign rally at the Des Moines airport, but to a controversy surrounding aid to our nation’s hungry.

Here’s the deal: Given that COVID-19 has cost farmers much of their commercial market and exacerbated food insecurity for millions of people, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advanced a $4 billion Farmers to Families Food Box Program called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Here’s the misdeal: The boxes that program provides to food banks around the nation–and then to food pantries– now include a letter in English and Spanish and adorned by the usual grandiose signature of Donald J. Trump. He takes a measure of credit for the program and writes, “I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America.”

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Lessons learned from our giving table

Todd Struthers chronicles “what went right, what went wrong, and the lessons we’ve learned running our 4H Giving Table in Waukee.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It started for us on May 26. The idea came from a post by Andy Slavitt, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama. He linked to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled, “After losing loved ones to virus, Maplewood woman makes her yard a lifeline for others.” 

Slavitt occasionally showcases people doing good in these “difficult times,” to quote an overused phrase. The feature was about a cancer survivor named Shana Poole-Jones, who lives in the suburbs of St Louis. She had family who died or had gotten sick with COVID-19, and she had created these grab and go tables where people can drop off or pick up food or toys. 

One thing she said resonated with me: “I realize that I’m a broken person and most of the people who to the table are broken right now. But all the broken pieces pieces come together and make a soft of community to survive this.”

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Republican bill to protect housing discrimination part of a pattern

Matt Chapman closely follows Iowa legislative happenings. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Senate Local Government Committee has approved a bill that would prevent municipalities from banning discrimination against tenants based on their source of income.

Senate Study Bill 3178 is yet another attack by the majority party on some of the most vulnerable Iowans. Section 8 housing vouchers are for those with nowhere to go, and they only cover half of the rent on apartments or houses.

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Child poverty and the country's future

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. -promoted by Laura Belin

Possibly the most important five minutes of the eight Democratic presidential debates happened when candidates answered the last question–on child poverty–in the recent New Hampshire debate.

It was not that the candidates differed in their approaches, but they all saw this as a critical issue and provided important reflections on what is at the heart of a fundamental challenge to American prosperity — the future of our diverse next generation.

First Focus has done a valuable service by putting the clip on You Tube.

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Iowa remains among worst states for racial disparities

Midwestern states continue to have greater “racial disparities in economic opportunity and economic outcomes” than do other regions of the U.S., while “policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager,” concludes a new report by Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa and the Iowa Policy Project.

Gordon’s findings are consistent with past research showing that African Americans in Iowa face pervasive barriers in many areas of life. By some measures, our state’s racial disparities are among the worst in the Midwest region and the country.

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Memo to presidential candidates: Rural Iowa is more than farm sector economics

ISU economist Dave Swenson: Iowa’s rural needs are more complicated, persistent, and acute than the current fortunes of the farm sector. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa currently hosts a horde of Democratic presidential candidates, but from what I can tell thus far, few have any meaningful experiences or insights dealing with rural areas or rural issues.

Historically, visiting candidates paid obligatory lip service to farm sector concerns – ethanol, commodity prices, and regulatory restrictions as examples — and assumed or pretended that took care of most rural issues.

But rural economies are more diverse than most suppose.

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