Thursday, October 8, 2009

Feeding People First

This week on Lincoln Avenue, I talked with Joel Berg about hunger, poverty, and – the crux of the matter – wages. As someone who studies working-class life, culture, and politics, I was especially pleased to hear him focus on wages. If more people earned a livable wage, fewer people would go hungry. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, even though the minimum wage was raised not long ago, we’re seeing many more people moving into low-wage jobs. Those are some of the fastest-growing job categories in the country.

Meanwhile, growing more and better food for urban, low-income communities is a hot topic, and Berg’s comments help us connect the dots between programs like food banks, living wage campaigns, and urban farms and farmer’s markets. We’re seeing many of these efforts here in the Youngstown area, though other cities are, in many cases, far ahead of us. But I’m encouraged to see people organizing around issues of poverty and access, along with all the efforts to attract new high-tech jobs and strengthen the arts community. We need it all here, of course, but feeding people is probably the right place to begin. And along with growing good food and donating to food banks, one of the best ways to feed people is to ensure that they can afford to feed themselves.

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