Tatum Lewis of Black Roots Farm in Clark County said he is working to help raise awareness about the Farms to Food Banks program among the state's farmers of color.
Kentucky farmers work to reduce barriers to food programs
LEXINGTON, KY (PNS)—Farmers in Kentucky say they have benefited from participating in Farms to Food Banks, an agricultural program funneling leftover produce from local farms to regional food pantries, and into the hands of Kentucky families in need.
Tatum Lewis of Black Roots Farm in Clark County said he is working to help raise awareness about the program among the state's farmers of color. Lewis views the program as an opportunity for farmers to generate cash from what they might otherwise plow under.
"I wanted to spread that message to minority farmers that there's another income source that you probably haven't noticed or used, or even known about," Lewis explained. "And it's a great opportunity to help supple- ment your income."
Lexington-based Complexion Community Development and the Community Farm Alliance in Berea recently partnered with Feeding Kentucky on grants to help increase diversity among participants in the Farms to Food Banks program. According to the nonprofit Feeding Kentucky, more than three million pounds of Kentucky-grown produce were distributed to people in need though the program.
Lewis noted a lack of physical representation means many Black farmers are left out of opportunities, and has been working on a project to map out where Black farmers are positioned across the state, with the goal of helping producers boost marketing strategies and access resources for farm projects.
"Being able to show them a physical representation during the Black Farmers Conference in March," Lewis outlined. "Where these black farmers are, where our voices are, where our products are, how we how they can do their transportation and distribution lines."
Lewis added cooperatives are one tool farmers of color can use to grow their businesses.
"Joining a co-op helps you get your voice out there and start moving things, and gaining that knowledge that you need," Lewis emphasized. "And they can also help kick-start your distribution lines."
According to federal data, the number of Black farm operators has plummeted over the last century. Only about 1 percent of the nation's farmers are Black, making up only 0.5% of total U.S. farm sales.
Interested Kentucky farmers can contact Feeding Kentucky at 859-986-7422 or online at produce@ feedingky.org.
Georgia voting rights advocates are looking to state corporate interests to pressure legislators from turning back the clock on voting rights gains earned by Black Americans during the 1960s. Courtesy Social Welfare History Project of Virginia
Top election officials stand against legislation suppressing voting rights
By KAYLA GOGGIN, Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (CN)—Georgia voting rights advocates outlined their strategy to fight the state’s overhaul of its election laws April 5, calling on corporations to come out against legislation that they believe threatens access to the ballot box.
The passage of Senate Bill 202, an expansive measure signed into law last month which places new restric- trictions on voting, has led activists to demand that corporations use their political clout to support voting rights in Georgia and in other states attempting to push through similar laws.
The law expands in-person early voting in most elections but places new limits on ballot drop boxes, adds ID requirements for absentee ballots, restricts absentee ballot application mailings, and shortens the deadline to request absentee ballots.
The new law also allows for unlimited challenges to voter eligibility and bans people from passing out food and water to voters waiting in line.
Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said corporations need to put their money behind voting rights groups instead of “conspiracy theorists and Republicans who are forwarding the voter fraud lie.”
After initially offering only vague statements about voting rights as Georgia’s Legislature fast-tracked the new omnibus bill to Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s desk, the CEOs of Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines called the new law "unacceptable."
Their rebuke was followed up by Major League Baseball’s decision Friday to move the 2021 All-Star Game
out of Atlanta.
“We have been clear that corporate actors need to speak up against these bills,” Groh-Wargo said. “We’re really grateful that Delta and Coke got in the game—though they got in late—but that coming and bringing their voice to the fight is having an impact in Arizona and Michigan.”
Lawmakers in Arizona, Florida, and Texas are currently considering proposals for similar controversial voting changes including restrictions on ballot drop boxes and additional ID requirements.
“We’re not calling for boycotts. What we’re calling for is for our corporate community to stand with the people and demand that democracy be preserved because the reality is this: whenever there are partisan ideals that take precedent over the franchise of the voting process is when democracy begins to fail,” Georgia NAACP President James Woodall said.
Woodall called the new law “an assault against democracy itself.”
Republicans have hit back by insisting that the law is being misrepresented. GOP Governor Brian Kemp said Saturday that MLB "caved to the fears and lies of liberal activists."
During a press conference that day, Georgia Atty. General Chris Carr said that “anybody who actually reads this bill” would see that it "strengthens, expands access, and improves transparency in Georgia’s elections."
Carr called the comparisons evoking Jim Crow "preposterous, irresponsible, and fundamentally wrong."
There are currently four pending lawsuits contesting the law filed by the NAACP, the African Methodist Epis- copal Church, the New Georgia Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and other organizations.
The lawsuits all argue the same essential point: that the law will make it harder for minority voters, especially Black voters, to cast their ballots.
"For some Georgians, this inconvenience may be manageable. But for voters of color and other historically disenfranchised communities—who already suffer through disproportionately longer lines than white voters— it could be dramatic," a 91-page lawsuit filed last week by the African Methodist Episcopal Church states. "This burden is not an accident. Nor is it legal."
Republican defendants in the lawsuits, including Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have remained steadfast in their arguments that the new law will boost voter confidence that they allege suffered after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed he won the 2020 election.
Election officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence of widespread fraud in Georgia’s elections. Three separate ballot counts verified the results of the election.
Study: Food insecurity major hurdle for Utah college students
Forty percent of Utah college students say food insecurity is affecting their academic performance.
Public News Service
OGDEN, Utah—There may be some truth to the expression about the "starving college student" struggling to earn a degree.
A survey of students enrolled in Utah colleges and universities found that for many, chronic food insecurity is a major issue.
The survey, commissioned by Utahns Against Hunger, asked students at several Utah campuses if they regularly have access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Almost two out of five students responded that they struggle to put food on their table.
Yescenia Quintana is a Weber State University evaluation and community research supervisor, and co-author of the report. She said poor nutrition can affect more than a student's grades.
"Students that were hungry had lower GPAs," said Quintana. "They were much more likely to report that they had a long-term health issue, that they had poor health, that they were struggling to pay rent or their mort- gage, or that they were struggling with utilities or getting clothing or any other basic needs. So it's not just limited to food."
Quintana said the statistics found for Utah students closely tracked national studies of hunger on campus. The Utah survey found that food insecurity disproportionately impacts women, first-generation students, students of color and rural students.
Quintana said students with nutritional needs often turn to relatives, free events, food pantries or government assistance programs to find sufficient food. She said as a result, those students also often face medical or emotional challenges.
"Students who are food insecure are much more likely to be socially isolated," said Quintana, "which is not helpful for them as far as getting the support they need."
Quintana said she hopes the study will provide a roadmap for Utah colleges and social-services agencies to develop programs to help students meet their nutritional needs and their academic goals.
"Utah's Against Hunger do have recommendations," said Quintana, "and they have presented on those rec- ommendations, every single one of them, what they could be doing nationally to locally, to what they could be doing on their own campus."
The study was conducted over a six-week period in late 2021 and surveyed more than 5,700 students from a variety of colleges and universities around the state.
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