Note: I sit on a community board that addresses poverty issues in San Antonio, Texas. This came to my attention in am email from a former board member and I wanted to share it. le
Pilot lets SNAP, TANF clients join the farmers market movement
In 2011, SNAP food benefit and TANF clients will find it much easier to join the millions of Texans who are rediscovering the nutritional benefits, cost savings and fun of buying food at farmers markets.
Twenty farmers markets around the state are participating in a year-long pilot program in which the markets will receive electronic point-of-sale terminals that let SNAP clients use their Lone Star cards at the markets. Most of these terminals will be linked wirelessly to HHSCs benefits processing system. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agricultures Food and Nutrition Service.
Eight of the 20 farmers markets in the pilot program are in the San Antonio area, and others are in Lubbock, the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Corpus Christi, Abilene, Austin, Elgin, Tyler and San Angelo.
National program sponsors say the purpose of the pilot program is twofold. First, the program should demonstrate that wireless technology makes it possible to extend the SNAP program beyond traditional retail food stores. Second, the program will enable many more SNAP clients to access a fresh food source that nutritionists consider a powerful force for improving family health.
Increasing the number of farmers markets that accept the Lone Star card will help SNAP join forces with a growing movement to improve public health. The number of farmers markets in the United States has tripled to more than 5,200 in the past 15 years. According to USDA estimates, at least 5 million people per week shop at these markets.
So far in Texas, 14 of the 20 farmers markets participating in the pilot have been approved as SNAP participants by the federal Food and Nutrition Service.
“This time, vote for what you believe in.”
— Senator Paul Wellstone
There are virtues to be found with partisanship. You fight for what you believe, hammering out a workable compromise with the opposition. You fight, argue, and debate, and at the end of a tumultuous day, there is something that is voted on and agreed to. The result may not be perfect, or even ideal, but it is based on ideas that can hopefully move us forward.
The problem is polarization. These days seems to be that the opposing sides are moving furthur and furthur apart on many issues. This is making it harder to find a workable compromise on the issues at the center of our lives. There was a time of Blue Dog Democrats, Rockefeller Republicans and Big Tent political parties that seems more distant now. However, governing from a centrist standpoint is not usually going to be an answer that will fix our problems.
The answers to the problems we find in politics are not easy, but immediately running to the center is not the answer. Partinsanship will continue and compromise, while certainly more difficult, will still happen. Perhaps then, the answer is, that all of us, from voters to politicians, to the journalists who report on news and opinions, we all just have to work harder on moving foward as a nation.
A party of the center.
I don’t consider myself a centrist, I am certainly a liberal on most things political. I may not agree with the effectiveness of a third party of the center, but in today’s extremely polarizing political environment, a movement for such a party would wake the two parties towards being more reasonable about opposing viewpoints.
A centrist third party, or more realistically a political movement from the center could very well have the effect that the progressive movement of the late 19th, early 20th century had with the two parties, in that case especially the Democratic Party. In this case a centrist movement would make both parties look long and hard at itself and perhaps begin taking a more moderate approach to dealing with opposing views.
The problem of the two parties goes beyond the idea of both parties moving to ideological extremes, but rather neither party seems willing to look each other in the eye and work on the issues at the center of people’s lives. While fighting tooth and nail over more ideologically driven issues, they forget most people want a good job, access to health care, a retirement they can depend on, and home they can call their own. In other words, the people care about what I would call “brown bag” issues that more directly affect our day to day living. A lot of our elected officials have forgotten about that, and seem more concerned with just beating the other side of the political aisle.
Extremes rule both parties, as centrists lose their seats
As moderate Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats lose seats in Congress this year, it looks more as if Congress will not work for a politics at the center of peoples lives. With the potential of endless gridlock in Congress, the only ones who will win are the corporations who hold increasing influence with Congress at the expense of the American people.
“There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
— Jim Hightower continues the good fight against the powers that be.
“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”
— William E. Simon