The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Delta Caucus Praises Biden Executive Actions on Food Aid and Stimulus, Calls for Major Stimulus Package to Follow

Posted on January 22, 2021 at 01:41 PM

The Delta Caucus praises the Biden administration food assistance and economic stimulus policies, especially with historic policy changes and increases in SNAP and other food aid.

However, hunger and poverty across the country are so dire–and even moreso in the Delta–that a major stimulus package must follow soon.

“Fighting hunger is urgent in the Delta where the pandemic has made our already severe food insecurity even worse, and President Biden is taking historic steps in the fight against poverty and hunger,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell.

Biden is asking USDA to allow states to increase SNAP (food stamps) benefits as well as to increase by 15% benefits distributed by a school meals program for low-income students during the pandemic.

This is estimated to give a family of three children more than $100 in extra benefits every two months. The Delta region ranks at the bottom in food insecurity in the USA (see data below in this message).

Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena said “I’m excited about prospects for a greater commitment to helping cities like Helena and the Delta region from the Biden-Harris administration.”

Mayor Smith said “President Biden has worked on behalf of the Delta and similar populations for decades in the Senate and as Vice President. He is a student of Robert Kennedy’s historic leadership in bringing hunger in the Delta to the nation’s conscience, and as a Delta heartland mayor I am glad to have a strong federal partner to aid our state and local efforts.”

Kathy Webb of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said her organization “is encouraged by the steps taken by the Biden Administration to address food insecurity. Arkansas food banks and pantries are seeing significant increases in demand, with much of that coming from first time users of the charitable food network.”

Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said “A comprehensive short and long term approach, with increased SNAP benefits, increased P-EBT, continued extra commodity support, as well as revising guidelines for SNAP benefits is imperative.”

Harvey Joe Sanner, long-time Delta advocate from Des Arc, said “I’m most encouraged by President Biden’s emphasis on helping hungry and low-income people who need help the most, and unfortunately we have a very large number in that category in the Delta. It’s bad right now but I feel like we’ll start making progress instead of being stalemated with these constructive policies in place.”

Millie Atkins, Delta Caucus coordinator for Louisiana and a community leader in Monroe, Louisiana, said “While we are more hopeful now that we have the new Presidential administration, this is likely going to get worse before it gets better, and we don’t know what we will be facing tomorrow. Hunger in the Louisiana Delta is very serious now, and COVID has complicated the ability of our food banks to get enough food–they are asking urgently for donations in either food or money ASAP.”

Joel Berg of the anti-hunger and poverty organization Hunger Free America said the Biden actions are historic in scope and positive impact: “This is a bold, common-sense move to address the nation’s joint hunger and public health crises. These actions represent the most significant administrative actions by the federal government to fight domestic hunger in modern times. This action is both smart and compassionate.”

The larger-scale $1.9 trillion comprehensive stimulus will be essential. The food assistance policies of the Biden-Harris administration have multiple benefits: they fight the surge in hunger during the pandemic, reduce the greater vulnerability to illness caused by malnourished people, provide large markets for our farmers, and have an economic stimulus of about $1.70 for every dollar spent on SNAP.

Other constructive actions include advising the Labor Dept. to make workers who refuse to return to work in conditions that could expose them to the coronavirus eligible for unemployment insurance, get previously approved stimulus checks to people who have not received them yet, and requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Earlier pandemic relief bills did not expand SNAP for the 40% of recipients who received the maximum benefit, but the current order allows states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for those who need them most. This is estimated to reach an additional 12 million people in enhanced benefits.

The recession is getting worse, not better. Last month, the economy lost jobs for the first time since the recovery began, weekly jobless claims in January remained at historic highs, and 50 million people are food insecure, including 17 million children.

Hunger in the Delta has plunged to deeply disturbing levels:

The three most heavily populated states with significant Delta areas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, had the three worst levels of adults not having enough food to eat in latest data by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

Louisiana 19%

Arkansas 18%

Mississippi 18%

Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky had among the highest food insecurity for adults at 14%.

The data for children who did not get enough to eat was even worse, with Mississippi at the bottom, and Arkansas and Louisiana tied for the next four worst:

Mississippi 25%

Arkansas 21%

Louisiana 21%

Kentucky’s level was 20% and Alabama was 16%. The other Delta states were substantially below the national averages.

The Delta Caucus commends the executive actions taken by the Biden administration. Now we urge all the Congressional delegations in the 8 Delta states to support the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion package.

POVERTY DATA–One in 3 adults across the country are having difficulty covering basic expenses like food, housing, medical care, and student loans, with Mississippi and Louisiana having the two worst levels:

Mississippi 45%

Louisiana 44%

Arkansas was at 39% and Alabama at 38%. Other Delta states were well below the national average.

1st Delta Conference in DC in 5 Years Set for May 12-14; Delta Caucus Continues Advocacy after pro-Trump Assault on the Capitol

Posted on January 08, 2021 at 04:45 PM

The Delta Caucus is moving forward with advocacy on Capitol Hill for the region’s economic progress after the defeat of the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol. There are promising prospects for the Delta’s economic progress in the new Congress and Biden administration.

The Caucus calls for strong actions against the pandemic and recession now and has just set the date for the first large-scale Delta conference on Capitol Hill in five years, on May 12-14, 2021.

We are asking all our colleagues to urge strong action by the new Congress and incoming Biden-Harris administration in efforts to promote economic development with stronger relief, unemployment aid, stimulus checks, increases in SNAP and other programs as we move past the pro-Trump failed coup and years of Presidential neglect for our region.

We encourage a strong turnout in DC on May 12-14, with a new administration and a new Congress much more likely to pursue legislation beneficial to our region.

The Delta Caucus commended Gov. Asa Hutchinson for not supporting the allegations of a fraudulent election, as well the votes of the Arkansas Congressional delegation–except Rep. Rick Crawford of east Arkansas–to vote against President Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him.

We applaud Sen. Tom Cotton–a staunch Trump supporter except for this vote–Sen. John Boozman, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Bruce Westerman and Rep. Steve Womack for voting to count the Electoral College votes duly presented by the states.

This is a victory for the rule of law, and now that this debacle is over we urge the delegation to get back to the job of taking action for job creation, infrastructure expansion, civil rights and diversity, economic opportunity for women and minorities, and a long-awaited major increase in funding for the Delta Regional Authority.

We regret that other senators and representatives from our region such as Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Rick Crawford–voted against counting the electoral votes even after the assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Crawford went even one extreme step further, blaming the US Supreme Court for not weighing the merits of the many spurious pro-Trump lawsuits. Crawford condemned the mob violence but that was a hollow gesture after he encouraged people to think the allegations should be taken seriously and then bashed the US Supreme Court for its upholding of the law.

We would ask Rep. Crawford to reconsider his position and realize his mistake in promoting the falsehoods about the election, which was fair and accurate according to knowledgeable officials from both parties.

Many Republicans have condemned Trump in this disaster, so this is bipartisan. We will be inviting participants from both parties in Congress, officials of the upcoming Biden-Harris administration, and grassroots leaders to the May 12-14 Delta Regional Conference.

BASIC SCHEDULE, MAY 12-14, 2021 DELTA CONFERENC ON CAPITOL HILL

The opening session will be on the Senate side May 12 in the evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (we are working on finalizing the meeting room).

We have set the US House of Representatives Gold Room Rayburn Building for the House session on May 13, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30. The House and Senate full sessions will include Members of Congress from both parties and new administration officials.

We will continue on the afternoon of May 13 and Friday May 14 with smaller-scale and individual meetings to make contacts to additional Congressional and executive offices.

SHORT LIST OF KEY INITIATIVES:

Continuing relief aid and unemployment aid to fight the recession and pandemic;

Job creation through USDA, SBA, Labor, infrastructure at DOT and other agencies;

USDA programs for rural small business, infrastructure, and rural housing programs to help renters and aid people become or remain home-owners;

USDA SNAP benefit increases of 15%,WIC, school meals and other nutrition programs to fight the spike in hunger caused by the pandemic. While SNAP is primarily the main bulwark against hunger, it also has a stimulus impact in that every $1 spent on SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity;

Health care–continuation and improvements of Medicaid expansion and other initiatives for health care to underserved populations during the pandemic;

Major broadband, housing, transportation infrastructure investments to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure;

Continuation of a moratorium on housing evictions;

Expansion of the budget for all the regional commissions, including DRA, Appalachian Regional Commission as the largest of the commissions and the others that extend throughout most regions of the country and actually cover a majority of states in the country.

–ARC funding was in the range of $500 million in its heyday. An increase to only half that of $250 million, and an increase for the DRA budget from its current tiny $28 million to $200 million would be a good starting point. If all the regional commissions were increased from their current relatively paltry amounts it would still represent a drop in the bucket of the enormous federal budget.

We needed Crawford to be focused on community and economic development in the Delta Region. He represents the heart of the Arkansas Delta. He should have been focusing on Delta economic issues instead of supporting these lies and encouraging his constituents to believe in them.

These events will not deter us from our normal advocacy on Capitol Hill, and in fact is likely to increase security there over the long term.

This week Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell was not going to let the Trump hooligans keep him from his usual practice of spending time on Capitol Hill. He is based there for that reason. While he was at the back of the melee and did not directly see any violence, there was an atmosphere of gratuitous animosity. He was not wearing any political paraphernalia or doing anything political, but because he was wearing a mask he had some Trump supporters yell at him “Take that god-damn mask off! Don’t you know it’s a hoax? There’s nothing to fear.”

Powell did not respond and moved on.

Powell saw other Trump supporters yelling at media: “You hate Trump, admit it. Say ‘I hate Trump.’” Of course it’s the pro-Trump people who are spouting hatred.

Even the day after the riot, at the Capitol there were still substantial numbers of Trump flag wavers, people with loud-speakers, etc., although they were much more subdued because there were a ton of police there that day. It was incompetent that the US Capitol Hill police were not out in those numbers on the day before.

REGISTRATION FEES

You register for the May 12-14, 2021 Delta Regional Conference on Capitol Hill by paying the $100 registration fees.

The easiest and fastest way to pay registration fees is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the Paypal link at the top of the site that says “Donate.”

GROUP DISCOUNT: We will give substantial group discounts down to $60 if you can recruit three others, and even larger discounts for recruiting a larger additional number of attendees.

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Economic Opportunity, Diversity and Climate Change Policy Recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration

Posted on December 08, 2020 at 01:27 PM

Economic equality and Delta colleagues:

From: Delta Grassroots Caucus and Economic Equality Caucus

To: Biden-Harris Transition Team

Subject: Policies for Economic Opportunity, Race and Gender Diversity in the Biden Administration

The Delta Grassroots Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus recommends this short list of key priorities for economic recovery, health, and diversity for economically distressed populations like the Greater Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, Northern Border, Great Plains, Southeast Crescent, and Southwest Border. We are grassroots advocates for economic equality and diversity across the country.

1) Economic Recovery and Workforce Development

Expanded job creation and retention programs during the pandemic: this includes

–strong funding and support for Small Business Administration, Labor, USDA Rural Development small business programs, and other major federal programs,

–New Markets tax credit, initiatives like rural Empowerment Zones and a reformed version of Opportunity Zones to provide tax incentives for investing in low-income areas, Community Development Financial Institutions and other progressive economic initiatives.

Strong unemployment benefits, economic stimulus and relief to promote economic recovery see vulnerable populations for a strong economic recovery through the Covid-19/recession.

Education and workforce investment–Strong K-12 funding and support for public education, and aid to cut the exorbitant costs for higher education that are blocking the career paths of so many people nowadays and/or saddling them with huge debt;

Environmentally friendly agriculture focused on small to medium-sized farmers, ending tariffs that invite retaliation against farm exports, and opening up new trade markets across the globe.

Climate change: Provide tax breaks and other incentives to farmers to help them make the transition to environmentally friendly agriculture and help deal with climate change. Assistance in transition to renewable energy for farmers is far more productive than lectures.

Increased funding for all regional commissions in economically distressed regions: for the Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Southeast Crescentm Northern Border Regional Commission, Southwest Border Regional Commission, Great Plains, Denali and other commissions serving economically distressed regions.

All of these commissions are under-funded or in some cases have been authorized but not funded and exist only on paper. These regions need special aid due to their chronic poverty levels and they need to be supported and funded.

2) Health Care and Nutrition in the Pandemic

–Support for Obamacare and health care for those without adequate insurance, and

–strong policies for mask-wearing, social distancing and broad distribution of vaccines when they are available–this is always crucial for a region that has such high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other maladies, but even moreso now.

–In diverse regions like the Delta we are doubly concerned about the disproportionately high virus rates for African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other minorities;

USDA SNAP, WIC, school meals and other nutrition programs: with regions like the Delta, Appalachia, Southwest Border, Southeast Crescent and Rust Belt suffering skyrocketing food insecurity in the country, we are calling for

–a 15% increase in SNAP funding,

–strong continuing support for the pandemic EBT program,

–rolling back of the Trump policies making it harder for people to gain SNAP and other benefits they are eligible for, and making WIC an entitlement so that it finally gets solid funding over the long term;

3) Racial and Gender Equity

Women and minority issues–women are hit worst by job losses in the pandemic recession, and minorities are hit worst in the number of virus cases. Moreover, low-income people tend to not have as strong access to affordable quality health care. We must have equal pay for women doing the same work as men.

Restoring, protecting and expanding upon the Voting Rights Act and other gains of the civil rights movement,

–major increases in funding and stature of the Minority Business Development Agency, equal access and opportunity in federal procurement and employment across the federal government, are among the top priorities.

–The CDFI, New Markets Tax Credit and other initiatives cited in the jobs/economic equality section will provide major benefit for African Americans and Latinos who have lower income and job opportunity.

Police reform, combating racial violence and bigotry—We need to acknowledge that most police officers are non-violent enforcers of the law. This truth was tragically driven home recently when an exemplary officer, Kevin Collins—who happened to be African American—was killed while engaging in criminal investigation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

While we appreciate the work of the great majority of the police, we do have a recurring dilemma of police violence against blacks. We support reforms such as:

–banning chokeholds and similarly dangerous actions,

–requiring officers to restrain other officers when they see them being abusive or using excessive force,

–training on scaling down and defusing rather than escalating tense situations, encouraging officers to communicate with subjects, maintain distance, and otherwise reduce use of force,

–firing, criminal prosecution where appropriate and other stern punishments for officers who engage in violence or racial slurs,

–creating a national registry for police officers with abusive records,

–assure higher pay for law enforcement officers. They need to be well paid if we are going to attract high quality officer.

–Crime prevention: Establish and fund Community/Neighborhood Crime Prevention Commissions which help reduce crime .

4) Infrastructure and Climate Change

Infrastructure expansion program to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure:

We need a major investment in housing, broadband, transportation and other infrastructure in US Dept. of Transportation, USDA Rural Development housing, utilities, and other infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development for struggling inner city areas across the country.

Note: In Louisiana, small towns like Bogalusa as in most small towns USA there is a need to budget an overlay/blacktop of streets unbiased throughout residential neighborhoods. “Streets within residential communities perform various infrastructure functions. They provide conduits for communication, electricity, storm water, sewage systems (i.e., utilities)” (Noted from: Status and Future Directions for Residential Street Infrastructure Retrofit Research/Ksenia I. Aleksandrova, Wendy J. McWilliam and Andreas Wesener *School of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Environment, Society and Design, Lincoln University, P.O. Box 85084, Lincoln 7647, Christchurch, New Zealand); ,

IN ADDITION a need for pedestrians, cyclists, and ADA sidewalks, as well as, drainage to prevent flooding, and programs to develop or demolish blighted property.

Climate change and investments in biofuels, solar, wind and renewable energy:

Many economically distressed regions like the Delta, Southwest Border and Appalachia have great potential for producing biofuels, and the nation as a whole must make great investments in solar, wind, and other renewable energy to transition away from fossil fuels that cause health problems and climate change in the form of much greater numbers of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters to which the Greater Delta Region suffers from more than most regions.

In addition to the vital environmental impact, renewable energy has tremendous economic potential for job creation over the long term. This is a national and international problem and we have to make this transition now. Again, tax and financial incentives to farmers and businesses who make the transition away from fossil fuels is needed on a large scale.

Environmentally friendly buildings and housing: We enthusiastically endorse President-Elect Biden’s plan to upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with the option of union membership;

–spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.

In housing spurring the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units. We need federal grant programs in place to assist our low income elderly in repairing their homes (roofs, porches, plumbing, etc).

Poll of Lower Income Americans Shows Support for Strong US Government Programs to Fight Hunger and Poverty

Posted on November 27, 2020 at 11:44 AM

“Poll of Lower-Income Americans Shows Support for US Government Programs to Fight Hunger and Poverty in the midst of Rising Poverty during the Pandemic”

An in-depth poll disseminated by the national anti-hunger and poverty organization Hunger Free America found that many lower to mid-income people lost income due to the pandemic, have low-paying jobs and can’t find better paying ones, and have recently lost family income due to illness or disabilities.

The poll found a broad consensus among people from rural as well as suburban and urban areas making less than $50,000 in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage, guaranteeing living wage jobs to all adults, increasing spending on SNAP nutrition programs, and eliminate bureaucratic rules in which people lose all their benefits as soon as they work more hours or get a raise.

The poll was conducted by Kupersmit Research, a nationally recognized polling organization, on behalf of Hunger Free America, whose CEO, Joel Berg is a partner and frequent participant at Delta Caucus events.

Support for expanding the SNAP program cuts across both rural and urban America as well as gaining strong support from Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike among lower income people, the poll found.

“People in Arkansas and the rest of the 8-state Greater Delta Region owe a debt of gratitude to Hunger Free America for continuing to shed the light of truth on rising hunger and poverty during the pandemic, as well as the reality that lower-income people strongly support policies like increased SNAP benefits, higher minimum wage, and elimination of red tape obstructing eligible people from obtaining benefits,” said Delta Caucus director Lee Powell.

Key findings: 73 % of those polled wanted the US government to take steps necessary to end US hunger.

Kathy Webb of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said, “The results of this poll confirm what the Alliance has long said: Raising SNAP benefits is imperative. Reducing barriers to accessing federal nutrition programs is imperative. The charitable food network, called on to do more than ever, cannot alone meet the needs of the 160,000 MORE Arkansans struggling to access nutritious food.”

Asked about the statement, “The U.S. government should enact the policies and programs necessary to end U.S. hunger by ensuring that all Americans can afford and access sufficient, nutritious, culturally compatible food:”

–45 percent strongly agreed, 28 percent somewhat agreed, five percent somewhat disagreed, and two percent strongly disagreed (14% did not take a position). Only 7% either somewhat or strongly disagreed.

Two thirds (67%) agreed that “If the U.S. government decided to spend as much as necessary, we could eliminate U.S. poverty, homelessness, and hunger.,” including 41% who strongly agreed and 26% who somewhat agreed (15% neither agreed nor disagreed, 7% somewhat disagreed, and 5% strongly disagreed).

The poll clearly indicates that low-income Americans believe that the government could choose to solve these problems, if leaders made it a priority to do so.

Support for Domestic national service: The poll also found strong support for reviving the spirt of the original G.I. Bill by enabling any Americans willing to perform a year of domestic national serve to receive a large post-service voucher to pay for higher education, to buy a first home, or to start a business.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a national anti-hunger direct service and advocacy organization, said: “Even before the pandemic, nearly one in five Americans lived near or below the poverty line, pushing the great American middle class closer and closer to extinction.”

Berg stressed that rather than assuming we knew what people in poverty or near it favored for policies to fight poverty, they commissiond an objective poll. In the last election, virtually the only thing that united the most pro-Trump rural counties and the most pro-Biden cities was high levels of poverty and low levels of income. Instead of assuming we knew what people in and near poverty were going through and what policies they wanted, we asked them.

It’s held a mirror up to America and forced us to confront the hard truth that we are more unequal right now than ever before. As more families are pushed to the breaking point, this research points towards a concrete policy agenda that Republicans and Democrats alike should coalesce around as we work to expand economic mobility and opportunity for all.”

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said, “Today, hunger, poverty and inequality are all on the rise across America. This new poll not only identifies the barriers low-income Americans face to getting ahead, it also shows there is broad agreement on the policy solutions that would give them a hand up during this difficult time.”

Rep. Fudge–who is widely considered one of the front-runners to be President-Elect Joe Biden’s Secretary at USDA that administers the SNAP program, said, “From raising the minimum wage and ensuring access to health care to boosting SNAP benefits, these are commonsense solutions that Congress can act on now to help struggling families put food on the table. Rising hunger in America is a moral and policy failure – addressing it should never be a partisan issue.”


For those interested in more specifics, detailed poll findings are listed below:

ADDENDUM–Detailed Poll Findings Among Americans Ages 18-64:

–· In response to the question, “which generally has to do more with why a person in the U.S. is rich?”,

–64 percent said “they have had more advantages in life than most other people,” 22 percent said “they have worked harder than most other people,” and 14 percent weren’t sure.

–· In response to the question, “which generally has to do more with why a person in the U.S. lives in poverty?”,

–65 percent said “They have faced more obstacles in life than most other people, 22 percent said “they have not worked as hard as most other people,” and 14 percent said they were not sure.

–· In response to the question, “thinking about most people who live in or near poverty, which of these do you agree with the most?”,

–35 percent said “they face too many obstacles to ever get ahead,” 36 percent said “they could get ahead, but they need help from government and society,” 16 percent said “they could get ahead on their own if they worked harder and saved more,” and 16 percent were not sure.

· In response to the question, “Do you think that having hope for the future makes a difference? Which of these best describes your situation?”,

–29 percent said “if I had more hope that I could get ahead in the future, I might work a little harder and save a bit more,” 49 percent said “I am already working as hard as I can and saving as much as possible, so, hope for the future has nothing to do with it,” eight percent said “I don’t try to work harder or save more because there is really no chance I will ever get ahead,” and 14 percent didn’t know.

–· In response to the question, “Thinking about government benefits programs that are available to help people who are struggling to make ends meet In general, do you think these programs give people:”

–22 percent of respondents said “Not enough to survive,” 37 percent said “Enough to survive, but not enough to make ends meet,” 19 percent said “Enough to make ends meet, but with a lot of stress,” 10 percent said “Enough to make ends meet, but with minimal stress,” four percent said “More than enough to make ends meet,” and 8 percent were not sure.

Delta Caucus Endorses President-Elect Biden's Plans for Economic Equality, Nutrition and Rural Development, in Contrast to Trump

Posted on November 17, 2020 at 11:28 AM

“Delta Caucus Endorses Biden Transition Team Plans to Fight Hunger and Poverty”

The Delta Caucus endorses President-Elect Biden’s plans to expand funding and access for job creation at good wages, SNAP, WIC, and other nutrition benefits, and a broad range of initiatives for economically distressed populations, in contrast to President Trump’s opposition to these programs.

“Biden’s bipartisan plan for fighting poverty and hunger provides a welcome contrast to President Trump’s radical departure from the traditional Republican support for SNAP, going back to President Nixon and Bob Dole’s staunch support of food stamps and the many Republicans in Congress today who still support SNAP and believe no American should go hungry.” Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell said.

The Delta Caucus wholeheartedly endorses the Biden plans for a 15% increase in SNAP benefits, support for the Pandemic EBT, rolling back of Trump administration efforts to obstruct people from gaining SNAP benefits, improving USDA Rural Development housing, infrastructure and small business programs.

Trump has proposed regulations that would terminate or sharply cut SNAP benefits to 4 million Americans, according to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“The Delta Caucus commends President-Elect Biden’s appointment of Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond as Senor Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Rep. Richmond has previously been a speaker at Delta Caucus events in Washington, DC, and it is great to have a leader from the heart of the Delta in such a high-level White House post,” Powell said.

Said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide nonprofit group: “Hunger and poverty are serious problems in every state in the nation, but are particularly dire in Arkansas and the entire Mississippi Delta Region. That’s why we are so encouraged that the Biden/Harris Administration has pledged to place a serious focus on ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, nutritious food and that we boost economic opportunity for all.”

“President Trump has departed from the traditional Republican support for SNAP, going back to President Nixon and Bob Dole’s staunch support of food stamps and the many Republicans in Congress today who still support SNAP and believe no American should go hungry. We will soon have a President who will restore the bipartisan support for anti-hunger and poverty initiatives rather than the obstructionism that President Trump continues to spew,” Powell said.

Harvey Joe Sanner, president of American Ag Movement of Arkansas based in Des Arc, said “In the Arkansas Delta we look with great anticipation to the Biden administration’s constructive plans for job creation at good wages, support for lower to middle income populations in areas like ours that have too often lagged behind economically. The Biden-Harris plans to expand USDA nutrition and rural development programs, implement a broad range of initiatives to fight hunger and poverty are huge improvements over the government welfare for the wealthy under President Trump.”

Kathy Webb, Executive Director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said “The AR Hunger Relief Alliance is concerned about the rapid rise in food insecurity in Arkansas since March, particularly among children. We look forward to working with the incoming administration on our priority issues, which include advocating for an increase in SNAP benefits, continuing P-EBT and USDA waivers for school meals and out of school programs, and removing barriers to access to federal nutrition programs. The Alliance is optimistic the Biden Harris administration will put into place policies and programs discussed during the campaign.”

The Delta Caucus endorses a range of initiatives supported by President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris to combat the hunger, poverty and health crises our economically distressed region and the nation are now facing, with 43 million Americans now receiving SNAP–6 million more than in April 2020 when the pandemic hit. Census data indicates that four in 10 households struggle afford such basics as food and medical care.

–Increase SNAP benefits by 15%, support the Pandemic EBT program, and roll back Trump administration administrative rules that would have added layers of red tape to work requirements in trying to prevent people from obtaining SNAP benefits, which in addition to fighting hunger generate about $1.70 in economic activity for every $1 in SNAP spending;

–Supporting economic opportunity initiatives to create livable wage jobs such as Small Business, USDA Rural Development, Labor, and a reformed version of Opportunity Zones to make sure that lower income people benefit and attract investment to economically distressed areas;

–Strong unemployment benefits, relief and economic stimulus until the recession adds and we have a solid recovery; Support for Medicaid expansion, Obamacare, mask-wearing and social distancing to combat the pandemic as the main cause of the recession;

–Support the Biden transition team’s plan to aid small and medium-sized farmers, roll back Trump tariffs that encouraged retaliatory tariffs on farm exports, and implement then Sen. Harris’ plan announced earlier this year for a $100 billion rural economic recovery plan a SNAP for Kids Act that would raise food assistance for school-age children by $42 a month, expand funding for the Health Foods Financing Initiative that improves access to nutritious produce, especially in rural areas where grocery stores are in many cases sparse;

–Major infrastructure expansion program in transportation, housing, broadband and other infrastructure to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure.


ADDENDUM–ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM DELTA CAUCUS PARTNERS

Ben Burkett, an African American family farmer and owner of B and B Farms in Petal, Mississippi, said, We’re pleased by President-Elect Biden’s constructive positions for lower to middle income families, agriculture, infrastructure, rural broadband, and look forward to working with the new administration.”

Wilson Golden is a senior Delta Caucus adviser with multiple strong credentials: a Clinton administration Presidential appointee, board member of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Mississippi, Biden delegate to the Democratic Convention, and native Mississippian now living in an Appalachian county in Georgia, said “I am enthusiastic about President-Elect Biden’s leadership on poverty and hunger issues for economically struggling regions like my native Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, including aid for small and medium-sized farmers. Having been raised on a family farm in Mississippi, I applaud the transition team’s support for the Healthy Foods Financial Initiative that is especially helpful for providing access to nutritious produce in rural areas where grocery stores are often few and far between.”

“Many low to middle-income families across Louisiana and the entire Delta region have lost jobs, wages, health care, their small business, and the ability to feed themselves due to this pandemic. We feel hopeful in the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to the critical support and protection of families, racial equity, and the economic recovery of our communities.” said Millie Atkins, community leader based in Monroe, Louisiana and veteran Delta regional advocate.

Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena sounded an upbeat note about the upcoming administration, saying “I welcome a new opportunity to address our problems in the Delta on hunger and poverty as Biden and Harris set forth in their campaign, in addition to their longstanding records of concern for economic issues in rural America.”