Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 36

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists start talking about coming out of this conference is the summer feeding program. The Summer Food Service Program provides meals for hungry kids over the summer. During the school year, they’re in a cafeteria: it’s easy to reach them. What about during the summer when there is no school? We need Vacation Bible Schools providing meals; we need Boys and Girls Clubs. We need summer schools or libraries. We can, thanks to your taxpayer dollars and mine, provide reimbursements for the meals. That’s one of the potential actions that could come out. In other places, the school cafeterias of universities are the vendors for those meals. Tuskegee University in Alabama did that a couple of summers ago. It was jobs for the cafeteria staff feeding hungry kids. 3. Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services This is number three. That’s where we provide subsidies for farmers. The way it is set up now is that is going mostly, almost exclusively, to the big row-crop farmers: corn, rice, cotton, soybeans, and so on. If instead of just a farm bill—that’s what the legislation is usually called—it became a food bill because people who eat and have the same interests that you have were more involved in it, it might change a little, as it’s starting to do. We also have a risk management agency helping with crop insurance that’s mostly in the market, but it’s subsidized. So there’s part of your taxpayer dollars at work in making sure that there is a safety net for farmers, for those who grow our food. And that’s been expanded to fruits and vegetables in a little way as well. And then finally we have the Foreign Agriculture Service that promotes American exports overseas. That’s actually a healthy part of our economy. One in twelve jobs in the United States is connected to agriculture, and a lot of that is because we’re exporting about $160–$170 billion worth of our food and food products. People like USDA meat and others. But there’s another piece of the Department of Agriculture that’s providing food for people who can’t afford it overseas. It’s just a tiny part, but we have a global school lunch program: the George McGovern and Bob Dole International Food for Education Program, a bipartisan success, provides school meals overseas, which helps girls come to school because otherwise their families need them at home. It provides an incentive for keeping kids in school and has a huge, huge benefit down the road. 33