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.

Space Is Limited for Nov. 16-17: Please Pay Early Registration Rate to Reserve Space & Get Lower Rate

Posted on September 06, 2023 at 02:28 PM

Please Register by Paying Early Registration Fees for Nov. 16-17, 2023 Delta Conference in Little Rock, Deadlines and registration info are below.

Space is limited and is allotted on a first come, first served basis. If your fees are received later you may not be able to attend due to lack of space.

You register and RSVP by paying the early $70 registration fees for an individual by Sept. 30, or group discount down to $40 each if you can bring three or more people.

Registration fees go up to $100 after Sept. 30, 2023.

For very late registrations after Nov. 5, 2023, fees go up to $125.

We are providing incentives to get fees in on time to avoid the complications caused in earlier meetings when many people waited until the last minute to pay the fees.

BASIC CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: Opening session is Nov. 16, 2023 from 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday session on Nov. 17, 2023 at the Clinton Library from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

GROUP DISCOUNTS: If you can bring a group of three or more, we will give a group discount down to $40 each, and for a group of four or more we will reduce it to $30 each.

The easiest way to register is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the Paypal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

You can reply directly to this group email from Delta Caucus using the Constant Contact group email delivery system. Your reply will go directly to Caucus Director Lee Powell.

We will no longer be relying on individual invitations to each attendee as we have in the past, due to time constraints. We cannot send out hundreds of invitations to get the turnout of from 70 to 100 or so that we have in the past. This has been a poor use of our time caused by the unfortunate inattention of some attendees.

The schedule starts in the early evening of Nov. 16 a little before 5 p.m., resumes the next morning at 9 a.m. and ends with the luncheon the next day, so you can be in and out of the conference in less than 24 hours.

Request for a prompt and definite response: We ask all of the people we invite to please look over this invitation, see the website at mdgc.us if you would like more information, and then give us a definite yes or no response ASAP. Of course, it complicates our planning if many people wait until the last minute to RSVP. It’s understandable if you can’t work this into your schedule, we just ask everyone to give us a definite, timely response.

Speakers, schedule, group hotel and registration information are below in this message.

SPEAKERS TO BE INVITED:

We plan to invite President Bill Clinton, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, US Sen. John Boozman, Congressman Rick Crawford, Congressman French Hill, Congressman Bruce Westerman, state legislators, mayors and other elected officials, nonprofits, community-minded business leaders, experts in transportation, health care, hunger and nutrition, job creation, Delta Heritage tourism and related regional issues.

Speakers at national, regional and state levels usually confirm much later in the process. We will keep you informed about the schedule as it develops later on.

Key issues: We will cover a range of key issues, starting with job creation at good wages, education and workforce development as the essential requirement for obtaining and retaining good jobs, Delta Heritage tourism, health care, Medicaid, hunger and nutrition, transportation, housing and other infrastructure, and related issues.

SCHEDULE

Opening session will be on Thursday evening, November 16, 2023 from about 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at a central Little Rock location, (probably the Arkansas Capitol Rotunda but they do not take reservations this far ahead of time).

Informal session at the Comfort Inn & Suites restaurant and bar, 6:45 p.m. to whenever. Over the years people have often said this is very helpful in the networking opportunities and for individual discussions in a one on one setting.

*Clinton Library Great Hall session is set for Friday, November 17, 2023 from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. *

GROUP HOTEL:

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential in Little Rock. To get the group rate call the hotel at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.**

We hope you can join us for the Delta Regional Conference on Nov. 16-17, 2023. Thanks—Lee Powell, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347


Funding Levels for DRA, ARC and the 8 Regional Commissions in the USA

Posted on August 07, 2023 at 01:19 PM

August 8, 2023

Memorandum

From: Delta Grassroots Caucus

To: Advocates concerned with economic justice and equality

Re: Funding Issues for DRA and Discrepancy in Budgets of DRA, ARC and other regional commissions

These issues will be addressed at the Nov. 16-17, 2023 Delta Conference at the Clinton Library in Little Rock. Schedule and registration information is below at the bottom of this message.

Executive Summary

There are no less than 8 regional commissions in the USA, making up a hodge-podge of the ARC with its relatively huge budget, the DRA and the Northern Border Commission with modest budgets that are still too small per capita, and several other small commissions with even smaller budgets.

In addition to the DRA, ARC, Northern Border Regional Commission, there are the even smaller Southeast Crescent budget in the southeast US, the Southwest Border encompassing a huge area from southern California to much of southern Texas, the Northern Great Plains, the Great Lakes Authority and the Denali Commission in Alaska.

What we have now is an irrational hodge-podge with budgets determined by the vicissitudes of history, political clout and attentiveness of their Congressional and state political leaders.

The budgets need to be determined by sound, rational policy and not the accidents of history and politics. We can reform this by shedding the spotlight of information and knowledge on it.

Some of the commissions follow the absurd practice of including entire states–including large, relatively prosperous states like Florida or Minnesota–in the commissions’ jurisdiction. The entire reason for having regional commissions is to target funding to the most economically distressed counties. The geographical definition should have some reasonable resemblance to this basic intent.

The commissions’ boundaries were in many cases drawn for political reasons, but whatever the reason, if a result was absurd it needs to be corrected and reformed.

Summary of the facts of the commissions’ budgets and size of the regions.

What we need is a NATIONAL system based on objective criteria, including:

1) Needs and levels of poverty

2) Population—we just need a common sense approach. All the money shouldn’t go to a small number of people, but no one should be left out. Each person should be treated equitably, of course.

3) Geography and environmental factors should be considered, such as frigid weather in the Denali Commission and other Northern areas, frequent storms along the Gulf Coast, flooding in the Delta, mountainous areas as in Appalachia, arid conditions as in Southwest Border, etc. Each region has challenges so it needs to be assessed objectively and equitably.

4)Diversity and issues regarding discrimination against minorities such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc. Minorities should also include populations that have historically been marginalized, such as rural whites in Appalachia and other regions.

Other factors can be considered and we are open to suggestions.

Budgets and Areas Served by the Commissions

1. Appalachian Regional Commission–$400 million budget, covers parts of 13 states from northeast Mississippi to New York. Population for this region is about 26 million (although as with all the commissions the stature requires the majority of funding goes only to the most economically distressed).

The total combined budgets for all the eight commissions are $512 million, of which ARC has $400 million or almost 80 percent. We support the ARC and believe it deserves an increase as do all the commissions, but we need a sense of balance and equity among the commissions based on objective criteria.

2. Northern Border Regional Commission–$40 million budget covering all of Vermont, parts of New Hampshire and Maine, part of northern New York, population served is not readily available but would be estimated at five or six million. (We would encourage all the commissions to publish the total number of people they serve in the interests of transparency and information).

3. Delta Regional Authority–$30 million budget covering parts of eight states from southern Illinois and Missouri to Louisiana and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt–population of about 10 million.

4. Southeast Crescent Regional Commission–$20 million budget for most of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, all of Florida and small parts of southeast Alabama and Missisippi. The vast territory of this commission covers 428 counties.

With the exception of South Carolina, these states are relatively large and prosperous and have larger separate state government funding and resources to promote economic progress than do most of the Delta and Appalachian states. We are referring here, of course, to the state government budget that is separate from the specialized SCRC regional commission budget.

This covers the entire, huge state of Florida with its 23 million people and the fourth largest economy among the 50 states. The definition of the region should be reformed to cover the most economically distressed areas in the state, along with other appropriate efforts to follow the sound policy of targeting the most impoverished communities.

5. Denali Commission in parts of Alaska–$17 million. The population here is relatively small, but they face frigid weather in remote, low-income rural communities.

6. Southwest Border Regional Commission–$5 million to cover a massive region including southeast California, large regions of the border in Arizona, New Mexico and a large part across southern Texas.

7. Northern Great Plains Commission contains all of five states and most of Missouri (except for the southeast Missouri Delta area)–the funding has lapsed. No funding.

This is all of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and most of Missouri.

Five of these states are relatively prosperous and rank above average nationally in poverty (see data below), and South Dakota at 25th in poverty is right in the middle. Including all of relatively prosperous states is not the most sound policy–the jurisdiction area should be targeted to the most impoverished areas.

8. Great Lakes Authority—all of Michigan and parts of northwest New York, part of Wisconsin, and a little of northeast Minnesota.. It is currently not active.

This includes all of Michigan—which again is not consistent with the targeted approach toward the most impoverished communities that regional commissions are supposed to follow. There is certainly poverty in Michigan but to include the whole state is just a shotgun approach that should not be followed—it needs to be pinpointed to the areas most in need.

Lee Powell, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347 More details are below in the extended section for those interested.


You register and RSVP by paying the $100 Registration fees. Info on how to pay is below.

Schedule

The Friday session on Nov. 17, 2023 is at the Clinton Library Great Hall from about 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The opening session is Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 from 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Opening session will be on Thursday evening, November 16, 2023 from about 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at a central Little Rock location, (probably the Arkansas Capitol Rotunda but they do not take reservations this far ahead of time).

Clinton Library Great Hall session is set for Friday, November 17, 2023 from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m.

GROUP HOTEL

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential in Little Rock. To get the group rate call the hotel at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.**

REGISTRATION FEES

You register and RSVP by paying the $100 registration fees.

GROUP DISCOUNTS: If you can bring a group of three or more, we will give a group discount down to $50 each, and for a group of four or more we will reduce it to $30 each.

The easiest way to register is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the Paypal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Extended content section is below on the website:

DATA ON THE EIGHT REGIONAL COMMISSIONS ACROSS THE USA

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Arkansas Congressional Delegation Is Right to Support Earmark Funds for Disadvantaged Communities

Posted on July 25, 2023 at 01:37 PM

Arkansas Congressional Delegation Is Right to Support Earmark Funding for Impoverished, Disadvantaged Communities”

The Delta Caucus would like to commend US Sen. John Boozman, US Rep. Rick Crawford, US Rep. Bruce Westerman and the Arkansas Congressional delegation for supporting earmark funding for the most needy and disadvantaged communities in Arkansas. The Congressional officials consult regularly with state and local officials to stay on top of which projects are most deserving of support.

The article below in this email from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Washington Post and wire reports has things exactly backwards, saying that the process of earmarking in which Members of Congress can direct funding to the most impoverished and needy areas in fact does the exact opposite of that, and leads to more spending for the richest areas. The article is flatly erroneous.

In my experience in Congress years ago, US Rep. Bill Alexander, US Sen. Dale Bumpers and other members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation diligently directed funding to projects with the most serious needs.

Today’s Arkansas Congressional delegation including US Sen. John Boozman, US Rep. Rick Crawford, and US Rep. Bruce Westerman similarly support the earmark process because it enables the elected representatives of the people prioritize the most important projects, rather than relying on unelected bureaucrats to make those decisions.

In our view, Boozman and Westerman correctly emphasized that they gather feedback from local communities and state agencies to fund vital projects that merit federal investment, rather than leaving the decision to Washington bureaucrats.

This emphasis on prioritizing local knowledge puts the funding where it is most needed and assures that smaller, rural communities don’t miss out on funding simply because they don’t have the same resources as larger, more urban communities.

Some of the specific comments in the Washington Post analysis actually contradict their view of earmarks. For example, the Post reported that 84.5% of water-related earmarks from the Arkansas congressional delegation went toward improving services in communities that the Biden administration considers disadvantaged. In Arkansas’ case, clearly the great majority of the funding did go to disadvantaged communities.

The article reflected a bias in some of the statements, such as describing earmakrs in federal water funds as “political pet projects.” It then proceeds to allege that this leads to “cutting at times into money that could have been made available to poorer, needier communities;” this statement contradicts the Post’s other comment that 84.5% of the funding in Arkansas did go to disadvantaged communities.

There is an unfortunate history of ill-informed media reports portraying earmarks as corrupt, wasteful projects, when in fact they promote the democratic process by increasing the input of state and local sources to their district and state’s elected Congressional representatives. There likely have been a small number of ill-advised usages but any huge program will have a few exceptions to the rule; by and large, the majority of earmarks channel funds to the local areas and projects that need them most.

Some poorly informed people think this makes a great story that “Gee, look how corrupt and wasteful these politicians are.” This argument is just dead wrong. For the most part earmarks are examples of pinpointed, constructive funding.

Thanks—Lee Powell, Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347 ‚Äč

Here is the article about earmarks–draw your own conclusions.

Earmarks in Congress redirect water funding

COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE REPORTS

Members of Congress have redirected roughly $2.3 billion in federal water funds toward political pet projects over the past two years, cutting at times into the money that could have been made available for poorer, needier communities. As a result, 38 states and territories have been shortchanged about $660 million in federal water aid, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Washington Post. The problem is expected to worsen in the coming fiscal year, as House Republicans eye a $1.7 billion cut to the overall funding that Washington sends states for their water needs.

That could complicate a new national push to replace lead pipes, repair wastewater facilities and improve other aging infrastructure — an urgent task at a moment when the United States is grappling with extreme heat and other consequences of a fast-warming planet.

Every year, Congress appropriates money for two key federal water funds that are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, which then distributes grants to states. Since 2022, the federal allocation has totaled roughly $5.5 billion, amounting to a literal and figurative drop in the bucket for a nation with an estimated $625 billion backlog in projects to provide cleaner, reliable drinking water.

Before states receive any money, however, members of Congress can skim off the top of the funds. Using a legislative tool known as earmarks, lawmakers can reserve federal water aid for specific projects in their home communities. Only after that does Washington divvy up and distribute a smaller pool of remaining cash among the states. In some parts of the country, the result is a net cut in funding — creating, in effect, a system of water winners and losers.

In Illinois, for example, earmarks last year shortchanged the state $14.7 million in federal aid to improve clean water systems, according to state data and records compiled by the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities, known as CIFA, which represents local officials. Illinois has some of the greatest water needs in the country, including the second-most lead pipes in the United States, a recent federal analysis shows.

The flood of congressional requests also siphoned away critical water money from Puerto Rico as the U.S. territory continued to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Fiona in 2022. Over the past two fiscal years, Puerto Rico received roughly $26.6 million less than it would have without earmarks, according to CIFA data shared with The Post. The territory — whose officials did not respond to a request for comment — does not have voting representation in Congress.

For now, most states and territories have still been able to finance their water projects, thanks to a bipartisan 2021 infrastructure law that greatly increased federal water spending for five years. Eventually, though, that money will run out — leaving local officials with fewer federal dollars to address infrastructure needs.

The fiscal situation could worsen more rapidly under a bill advanced by House Republicans last week: The measure would slash federal water spending by more than half and reserve nearly every dollar remaining for earmarks — creating a combination of fiscal constraints next year that state officials have described as devastating.

States “are worried about this trend, the direction that it’s going,” said Gary Bingenheimer, a top official at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. “But if it continues, and our grants continue to be reduced, and the bipartisan infrastructure law money ends, then what do we do?”

IN ARKANSAS

According to The Washington Post analysis, 84.5% of water-related earmarks from the Arkansas congressional delegation went toward improving services in communities that the Biden administration considers disadvantaged.

Congressman Womack stated that “The assertion that water projects were short-changed because of community projects is a flawed argument. Member-directed spending is much more targeted and efficient than allowing unelected bureaucrats to make all the decisions.”

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Major Report Shows Great Benefits of School Meals at No Charge

Posted on June 29, 2023 at 12:59 PM

In this newsletter–

–FRAC issues major report on hunger and nutrition;

–registration, group hotel and schedule info for Nov. 16-17, 2023 Delta Conference in Little Rock

Research Shows Great Benefits of School Meals at No Charge

Unfortunately the Pandemic Program of Free School Meals Has Ended—but Ought to be Made Permanent

The child nutrition waiver offering school meals to their students at no charge was highly beneficial for education, nutrition and other phases of the program, according to a major report from the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Unfortunately the program offering school meals at no charge has ended.

The impressive beneficial results of offering school meals at no charge indicates that this program ought to be made permanent rather than ending it.

See the full report from FRAC on their website at FRAC.org (Please note—this is not a link so you will need to type in “FRAC.org”)

(Routine disclaimer: The Delta Caucus has no affiliation with FRAC. This message is based on our independent review of their report and our conviction that it has great merit. Editor’s note)

School meals and other nutrition issues will be among the crucial subjects for the Delta Caucus Conference in Little Rock on Nov. 16-17, 2023; Registration, Schedule and Group Hotel information is below in this message.

FRAC surveyed many school districts across the country and found numerous benefits to offering school meals to all students at no charge, regardless of household income.

–92 percent reported that it made it easier for parents and guardian

–88 percent reported that it decreased child hunger.

–86 percent reported that it eliminated stigma associated with school meals.

–86 percent reported that it supported household finances.

–84 percent reported that it eliminated school meal debt.

–79 percent reported that it eased administrative burdens.

–70 percent reported that it improves students’ food and nutrient intake.

–67 percent reported that it strengthens food and nutrition services’ image and relationships.

–65 percent reported that it supports academic achievement.

Many school districts across the country reported decreased participation in school breakfast and lunch when the child nutrition waiver allowing schools to offer school meals to all of their students at no charge ended.

Hunger and nutrition issues remain crucial issues for the Greater Delta and will be among the key issues covered at the Nov. 16-17, 2023 Delta Caucus Conference in Little Rock—registration, schedule and group hotel information for the conference is below in this message.

Six of the 10 states with the worst food insecurity levels are in the Greater Delta Region, according to a March, 2023 report by FRAC

West Virginia (15.1% of residents are food insecure)

Mississippi (15% of residents are food insecure)

Louisiana (14.8% of residents are food insecure)

Oklahoma (14.6% of residents are food insecure)

Alabama (14% of residents are food insecure)

Kentucky (13.8% of residents are food insecure)

New Mexico (13.4% of residents are food insecure)

Texas (13.3% of of residents are food insecure)

Arkansas (12.6% of residents are food insecure)

Tennessee (12.5% of of residents are food insecure)

FRAC’s Large School District Report: Operating School Nutrition Programs as the Nation Recovers From the Pandemic looks at survey findings from 91 large school districts in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and their reported school meal participation and operations in April 2022 and October 2022.

Decrease in school meal participation: The report reveals that average daily participation in school breakfast decreased by more than 100,000 students across the surveyed districts — from 1.84 million children participating in breakfast each day in April 2022 to 1.74 million participating daily in October 2022.

Districts also saw a decrease in school lunch participation by over 250,000 students — from 3.61 million students participating in lunch each day in April 2022 to 3.36 million participating daily in October 2022.

Problems with school food service departments: FRAC reported that despite a return to normal operations this school year, school food service departments reported continuing to face a multitude of challenges affecting operations and participation, such as rising food costs, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and more. Fifty-eight of the 91 surveyed districts (64 percent) returned to the free, reduced-price, and paid tiered eligibility system and no longer offered free meals to all students in at least one of their schools.

Delta Caucus partners wholeheartedly agree with FRAC’s position that it is detrimental to lose the progress brought about by the Healthy School Meals for All program, because going back to the pre-pandemic situation leads to many children losing the nutrition they need for health and learning.

We ought to have permanent nationwide healthy school meals for all students.

Pass the Universal Free School Meals Program Act of 2023: We need permanent legislative action to assure that all students have access to healthy school meals at no charge. Congress needs to pass the Universal Free School Meals Program Act of 2023, Congress would help ensure that every student across the country has access to school meals, as well as nutrition they need after school, in the summer, and in child care.

CONTACT: Lee Powell, Caucus Director (202) 360-6347

Email: Leepowell@delta.comcastbiz.net


Please RSVP for the Delta Grassroots Caucus Conference on Nov. 16-17, 2023 in Little Rock

Please RSVP for the Delta Grassroots Caucus conference on November 16-17, 2023 in Little Rock to advocate for and disseminate important information about the 8-state Delta’s community and economic development.

You register and RSVP by paying the $100 Registration fees. Info on how to pay is below.

The Friday session on Nov. 17, 2023 is at the Clinton Library Great Hall from about 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The opening session is Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 from 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Opening session will be on Thursday evening, November 16, 2023 from about 4:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at a central Little Rock location, (probably the Arkansas Capitol Rotunda but they do not take reservations this far ahead of time).

Clinton Library Great Hall session is set for Friday, November 17, 2023 from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m.

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential in Little Rock. To get the group rate call the hotel at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.

REGISTRATION FEES

You register and RSVP by paying the $100 registration fees.

GROUP DISCOUNTS: If you can bring a group of three or more, we will give a group discount down to $50 each, and for a group of four or more we will reduce it to $30 each.

The easiest way to register is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the Paypal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

SPEAKERS TO BE INVITED: We plan to invite President Bill Clinton, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, US Sen. John Boozman, Congressman Rick Crawford, Congressman French Hill, Congressman Bruce Westerman, state legislators, mayors and other elected officials, nonprofits, community-minded business leaders, experts in transportation, health care, hunger and nutrition, job creation, Delta Heritage tourism and related regional issues.

We will cover a range of key issues, starting with job creation at good wages. Among the other issues will be included:

Hunger and nutrition: Many school districts reported decreased participation in school breakfast and lunch when the nationwide child nutrition waiver that allowed schools to offer school meals to all of their students at no charge ended. This is documented in an in-depth report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

Rebuilding after storms: We will give attention to the long-term task of rebuilding after the storms and look at ways to warn people of storms and other ways to reduce the damage.

We will also address the issue of police violence. We know most law enforcement officers are dedicated, reasonable public servants, but we need to improve our efforts to prevent those with violent tendencies from being hired and/or punish those who are violent on the job. This problem exists for everyone, but unfortunately is most acute for African Americans and other minorities.

Please join us in Little Rock on Nov. 16-17, 2023. Thanks–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347

Delta Caucus Opposes Cuts to SNAP (food stamps) as Part of Budget Deal

Posted on April 26, 2023 at 12:13 PM

The Delta Caucus advocates for a resolution to the budget crisis that does NOT make sharp cuts in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), which is a vital life-line for millions of low-income Americans across the country and is supported by many Republicans and conservative as well as centrist organizations.

The SNAP program is essential across the country, but especially so in the Mississippi Delta region, where we unfortunately have the worst food insecurity levels in the USA. The program prevents millions of low-income people from being hungry.

Six of the 10 states with the worst food insecurity rankings are in the Greater Delta/Alabama Black Belt region: Mississippi and Louisiana are second and third worst, Alabama and Kentucky fifth and sixth, Arkansas and Tennessee are ninth and 10th worst, respectively. (See figures below in this message.)

In addition to its vital role as a hunger and nutrition safety net, SNAP also has a multiplier impact on economic development: every SNAP dollar that is spent generates $1.67 in economic activity, according to nonpartisan economists at Moody’s Analytics.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s efforts to make sharp cuts in SNAP, the major anti-hunger life-line, contradicts the traditional bipartisan support for this program.

Throughout American history until recently, Republicans such as Sen. Bob Dole and many others supported SNAP on the grounds that one principle we can all support is that no one should go hungry in America. The stark departure from this nonpartisan consensus would be tremendously damaging if enacted.

SNAP has a low level of waste, fraud and abuse: There can always be improvements in such a massive program involving millions of people. But SNAP has a rate of waste and abuse of less than 3%–based on statistics from USDA as well as independent private sector organizations, and that is a solid record for any federal agency, and especially one with such a massive scope.

Any waste and abuse is bad and we should work to reduce it even further. But claims that this program is “riddled with fraud, waste and abuse” are just factually erroneous.

Today, even many Republicans disagree with McCarthy’s effort to cut SNAP as part of a budget deal.

For example, Congressman Marc Malinaro (R-NY) says his family relied on food stamps during his childhood While he has indicated support for improving the program and removing some inefficiencies in it. But he has thus far declined to support proposals to expand work requirements that his colleagues have been pushing for months.

Molinaro sounded a note of support for SNAP but indicated only the most needy should get aid — an argument Republicans have used in their campaign to reduce the size of the program. (Fact check: the program is already based on making only very low-income people eligible for food aid.)

“Yes, those that struggle the hardest need to know that they have the support, not only of SNAP, but of other wrap-around services,” Rep. Molinaro said.

Similarly, Rep. Derrick Van Orden R-Wisconsin), who is a supporter of President Donald Trump on most issues, spoke of his family’s struggle with poverty and reliance on food stamps when he was a child. While he acknowledges some flaws in the current system, he said, “I’m a member of Congress because of these programs.”

“There’s a lot of people who have not gone to bed hungry at night, and I have. And there’s no place for that in America,” Van Orden said.

Even organizations regarded as basically conservative, such as some state branches of the American Farm Bureau Federation (America’s leading agricultural lobby) are supportive of SNAP.

Eric Ooms, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation in New York, urged his colleagues not to think of SNAP as a “city thing,” emphasizing that the program is a key lifeline to low-income Americans in rural areas where food insecurity “is higher than it’s ever been.”

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas said this proposal is unlikely to be passed into law, given widespread, traditional support for SNAP.

THE 10 STATES WITH THE WORST FOOD INSECURITY RANKINGS–

Food insecurity is when people lack reliable access to an affordable, nutritious food supply.

West Virginia 15.1%

Mississippi 15%

Louisiana 14.8%

Oklahoma 14.6%

Alabama 14%

Kentucky 13.8%

New Mexico 13.4%

Texas 13.3%

Arkansas 12.6%

Tennessee 12.5%

Figures from USDA Economic Research Service averaged over three years from 2019 to 2021.