Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The March on Washington and the Right to Food

Picture from the 50th Anniversary of March of Washington Web site
A litttle over a week ago,  I received an e-mail from my friend and fellow anti-poverty advocate Tom McDermott, a part-time resident Santa Fe. Tom's e-mail message came from Barcelona. The fact that Tom was in Barcelona  is not surprising, since his life's work has involved a lot of travel with the United Nations in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana, Indonesia, Thailand, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, India, Pakistan, and Bosnia, and previously with the Peace Corps  in India.

In his e-mail, Tom was passing on an article published in the Huffington Post's blog about the 50th anniversary of  The March on Washington. The  blog post/article, co-authored by Smita Narula and Rev. Jesse Jackson, is entitled A Dream Deferred: The Right to Food in America. "Smita is the daughter of two former UN colleagues. He was head of UNICEF's emergency office and she was the head of the UN Medical Service," said Tom Thought the piece might be of interest."

 Here is an excerpt:

"This year our nation commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, giving us all occasion to reflect on his civil rights aspirations and the extent to which they have been fulfilled. But the persistence of hunger in America today brings to mind Dr. King's other dream -- that of ending poverty and realizing the full spectrum of human rights, including the right to food.

The world over, freedom from hunger and access to sufficient, nutritious food are recognized as human rights. These ideas are not foreign to the United States; they were inspired by our government's commitment to ensuring "freedom from want" in the wake of the Great Depression. Now, more than ever, we must reclaim these values and ensure the right to food for all Americans. 

Last month, the USDA reported that 49 million Americans live in "food insecure" households, meaning they cannot afford adequate food for themselves or their families. In other words, nearly one in six individuals in the richest country in the world is struggling to put food on the table. Hunger in the United States is not the result of a shortage of food or resources -- it is the direct result of poverty perpetuated through policies that fail to prioritize Americans' fundamental needs. 

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