All posts by roger_house

Jackmont Hospitality: A Georgia Family Business by Chuck Higgins

Jackmont Hospitality: A Georgia Family Business by Chuck Higgins

In the depths of the Great Depression, the Reverend Maynard Jackson, Sr., and his wife, Dr. Irene Dobbs Jackson, established a small family resort in the North Georgia Mountains named “Jackson’s Mountain”.

The mountain came to be known as a refuge where Afro-American families and friends could come and enjoy food and kindness in hostile times.

Years later, their son, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. – the first black mayor of Atlanta – daughter, Brooke Jackson Edmond, and an associate, Daniel Halpern, came together to take over the business. They formed a full-service hospitality management company and named it “Jackmont” in honor of the Jackson family history.

Since 1994, Jackmont Hospitality has grown to own multiple casualdining restaurants and manage dining programs for corporations and educational institutions.

Today Jackmont Hospitality is among the fastest- growing franchises of TGI FRIDAYS. It has the strategic and financial management skills which is required to run a successful hospitality operation. Its owns and operates 40 TGI FRIDAYS throughout the United States, with projected annual sales of $100 million and serving more than 200,000 guests weekly.

In addition to the TGIF franchise, Jackmont has provided airport food service concessions since 1996 in the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with $200 million annually. Jackmont Hospitality services are very broad, and even provide healthcare food services in hospitals, and school lunch programs for Atlanta Public Schools.

Economist Andrew Brimmer, in The Road Ahead: Prospects for Blacks in Business, concluded that it takes a lot more for black businesses to succeed than for white ones due in part to racial discrimination.

He writes, “If blacks want to have a truly meaningful role in the business world of the future, they will have to become a new breed of entrepreneurs. They must be prepared to compete in a variety of new fields against a phalanx of nationwide corporations ever anxious to attract an increasing share of the rising income and expenditures of the black community. Failure on the part of black-owned firms to diversify means stagnation and decline.”

Jackmount has proven that they can diversify their market. Its success is not determined by whether it is a black or a white business, but through the application of strong management and strategic vision. Among their guiding principles is fostering an environment which encourages high standards and team work.

The black business community has faced many unfair obstacles over history – companies that rise to the challenge like Jackmont have the best chance to succeed.

“Assessment of Minority Voting Rights” – U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2018

“Assessment of Minority Voting Rights in the United States” – U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report 2018
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the 2018 report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, “An Assessment of Minority Voting Rights Access in the United States:”
“In its unanimous conclusion, the commission found that voting discrimination persists and that access to the ballot is still burdensome for racial minorities, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency.
“We applaud the recommendations that Congress restore and expand the Voting Rights Act to thwart continuing discrimination, and that the Department of Justice robustly enforce the Act. For the sake of our democracy, they must do so.”
The Commission report can be found by copying and pasting the link below in a new page:
https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/2018/Minority_Voting_Access_2018.pdf

Florida Governor’s Race – One of the Most Important Campaigns of the 2018 Midterms by Vanessa Rivas

Florida Governor’s Race – One of the Most Important Campaigns of the 2018 Midterms by Vanessa Rivas

The Florida governor’s race was one of the most closely watched, highest-stakes governor’s races of 2018. It symbolized major implications for Florida and for the nation. And it stood out as a test of President Trump’s popularity in a large swing state just two years before his expected bid for re-election.

Andrew Gillum, left, and Ron DeSantis. Source: Colin Hackley and Tailyr Irvine, Tampa Bay Times.
Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Rick DeSantis competed to fill the seat of departing Republican Governor Rick Scott.
The race was very close with Gillum holding a small lead in many polls. He hoped to accomplish a feat that had eluded Democrats for two decades. The outcome was hard to decipher until the last minute when Republican Ron DeSantis gained a small lead.
Andrew Gillum, 39, Democrat
Gillum was the first Afro-American candidate for governor in Florida history. A graduate of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, he was the youngest candidate ever elected to the Tallahassee City Commission. He served from 2003 to 2014 and become Mayor in 2014.
His priority issues were health care for all, higher corporate taxes to better fund schools, and a $15 minimum wage. He supported a movement by the left to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency for alleged abusive practices under the Trump administration.
Ron DeSantis, 40, Republican
DeSantis graduated from Yale University and studied law at Harvard University. From 2013 to 2018 he served as the representative for the 6th congressional district centered around Dayton Beach. His priority issues included education, the economy and reform the state court system.
Portrait of Florida
Florida has a population of 21 million, about 77 percent white, 25 Hispanic (self-defined as white or brown) and 16 percent African Americans. About 37 percent of voters are Democrats, 35 percent Republicans and 28 percent are unaffiliated with a party. The median household income is about $53,700 and about 14 percent of the people are poor.
The industries that drive the state economy are tourism, agriculture, and international trade. Florida offers miles of sandy beaches, warm weather, and theme parks such as Disney World or Busch Gardens. The climate supports the growing of most citrus fruits and vegetables consumed around the country.

Source: Agamerica.com
Issues Faced During the Race
Andrew faced an FBI investigation for an incident that occurred in his role as mayor. He was accused of allegedly accepting tickets to a Broadway play from a lobbyist friend. While a seemingly minor issue, it was turned into a controversial question of integrity in the midst of a fierce campaign.
The issue of race played out in different ways over the campaign. Democratic voters were targeted with robo-calls of racist comments from a source linked to a white supremacist group. DeSantis was accused of using racist slang during the campaign such as warning voters not to “monkey up” the election and allow Gillum to win.
Early in the campaign, DeSantis portrayed his support for Trump by making commercials with his daughter building a wall on the Mexican border. He later realized his support for the president was not helping the campaign and decided to stop pushing such issues.
Results
On election night, DeSantis lead by the slimmest of margins. The vote total was about 4,076,000 for DeSantis and 4,043,000 for Gillum. The narrow difference of some 35,000 meant that absentee ballots had to be counted before the race could be called.
Gillum, after demanding that all the ballots be counted, gave a gracious concession speech. DeSantis become the 46th governor of the state.
Reference Sources
“Florida’s 225 Biggest Private Companies.” Florida Trend, floridatrend.com 6/28/2018.
“Andrew Gillum.” Ballotpedia, ballotpedia.org
Bousquet, Steve. “If You Vote by Mail in Florida, It’s 10 Times More Likely That Ballot Won’t Count.” Miami Herald (no date)
“Florida Population 2018.”  worldpopulationreview.com
Man, Anthony. “7 Key Demographic Insights to Know about Florida Voters – and What They Mean for 2018 Elections.” Sun-Sentinel.com, 17 June 2018.
“Median Household Income in Florida 1990-2017.” Statista.com
“Meet Andrew.” Andrew Gillum for Governor (campaign website)
 “Ron DeSantis.” Ballotpedia, ballotpedia.org
“Ron DeSantis for Governor.” Ron DeSantis for Governor (campaign website)

Georgia Governor’s Race – The Real Battle Has Only Just Begun by Lauren Carver

Georgia’s Gubernatorial Race – The Real Battle Has Only Just Begun

by Lauren Carver
The Georgia gubernatorial race was one of the more bitter events of the 2018 midterms. It spanned accusations of voter suppression, lawsuits and recount demands – this election really had it all.  Amid all the controversy were two candidates trying to promote their vision of a better Georgia. Let’s meet the candidates and the issues of Georgia:
Source: John-Bazemore, PoolGetty-Images, Vox.com
Stacey Abrams, 45, Democrat
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Gulfport, Mississippi, Stacey Abrams was raised in a poor family. Overcoming limits, she graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She earned a master’s in public affairs at the University of Texas and a law degree from Yale University. Abrams worked as a solicitor for Atlanta. About 2007, she was elected to represent Atlanta and parts of Dekalb Country in the Georgia House of Representatives. She served as House minority leader from 2011-2017.
Brian Kemp, 56, Republican
Brian Kemp was born in Athens, GA. He is married and the father of three children. He studied agricultural science at the University of Georgia. Upon graduation, Kemp founded his own construction business, Kemp Properties.  He was elected as Secretary of State of Georgia from 2010 to 2018.
Social and Economic Profile of Georgia
The population of Georgia is about 56 percent white, 30 black, 9 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, and 2 percent of mixed racial or ethnic heritage. There are slightly more men than women. More than half the population is between 18 and 64 years and about 15 percent 65 and older.
Georgia’s median household income is about $51,037 and the poverty rate about 14 percent – among the poorest states in the country. The dominant economic sector is agribusiness. The wide range of farm products account for $72 billion of the state’s economic activity.
Georgia is also home to a $5 billion entertainment industry with film and television projects that create jobs for more than 30,000 people.  The state also has a vibrant energy industry: natural gas generates about $35 billion in revenues and employs more than 26,000 people.
The Issues
Abrams and Kemp addressed a number of issues important to Georgia residents: healthcare, state finances, education, abortion, and gun rights. Here are the gleanings of a few issues debated:
Healthcare was a hot topic given the condition of hospitals and medical facilitates in Georgia. Foremost, the declining status of many hospitals and pharmacies in rural counties. The issue is particularly crucial because Georgia is one of the anti-Obamacare holdouts that refused to expand Medicaid. As you would imagine, Abram supports the expansion of Medicaid; Kemp promotes a concept of health tax credits.
On other issues, Abrams campaigned for higher state investment in education, infrastructure, veterans’ services and the arts. Abrams called for expanding childcare services and pre-kindergarten classes, touted competitive teacher pay, reduced class sizes, and better arts and science education, among other things.
Kemp promoted additional spending on education, public safety, transportation, and infrastructure while also calling for income tax cutbacks. He campaigned for better pay for teachers including a $5,000 pay raise.
An area where they were on complete opposite sides was on the topic of abortion.  Abrams endorsed by Planned Parenthood and opposed making abortion laws any stricter in Georgia.  Completely opposite of her, Brian Kemp has plans to enact tougher abortion restrictions and give Georgia “the nation’s toughest abortion laws”.
Georgia’s Anti-Democratic Tradition – Suppressing the Black Vote 
Source: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Network
During the campaign, Brian Kemp continued to serve as Georgia’s Secretary of State. Many people criticized his decision as a conflict of interest.  The primary function of the Secretary of State is to oversee the elections of the state.
Moreover, Kemp was accused by the New Georgia Project, a civil rights organization, for engaging in voter suppression tactics. An Associated Press investigation found that Kemp’s office had purged the voting applications of 53,000 Georgians, about 70 percent of which were African American. The New Georgia Project lawsuit was joined by other groups including the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many local organizations. They claimed that Kemp was working to suppress the turn-out of people of color.
The reason given for the purges was a controversial state anti-fraud law. It required an “exact match” of the information on the voter registration form and the information on a voter’s driver’s license or social security card. This means that something as simple as a missing middle initial could qualify as a reason for an application to be placed on a pending voter list.
Voters on the list were allowed to cast provisional ballots. However the burden of proof – and time needed to satisfy questions – was on the applicant. Such logistic hurdles created a disincentive to vote. Many saw this requirement as part of a larger rightwing strategy to discourage voters who would have supported Abrams and other Democratic candidates.
On election night the results were too close to call. No one had won by 51 percent which meant the prospect of a run-off election.  Kemp lead with 50.2 percent of the vote to Abrams were at 48.8 percent. Kemp took the opportunity to declare victory over his opponent.
Abrams filed a lawsuit demanding that the disputed provisional ballots be counted. A federal district court judge ruled in her favor and the votes were counted. The additional ballots, however, would not change the outcome. Kemp edged Abrams by about 55,000 votes or roughly 1.97 million to her 1.92 million votes.
On Nov 16th, Abrams ended her run for governor with a scathing condemnation of the Kemp campaign behavior. Moreover, she rejected any impression that she was in fact conceding, saying, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.”
Shortly afterwards, she announced the organization of Fair Fight Georgia. The agency will take steps to prevent rightwing interests from using the 2018 voter suppression tactics in future elections. The battle has truly just begun.
Reference Sources
“About Brian Kemp.” Kemp for Governor (campaign website)
“Georgia 2018: Where the Candidates for Governor Stand on the Issues.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5 Nov. 2018
Bluestein, Greg. “Kemp’s Health Care Policy Opposes Medicaid Expansion, Supports Waivers.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4 Oct. 2018
“Brian Kemp.” Ballotpedia, (ballotpedia.org)
Clark, Dartunorro. “Georgia Sued for Placing Thousands of Voter Registrations on Hold before  Election.” NBCNews.com
Denery, Jim. “Capitol Recap: Some in GOP Blame Kemp for Party’s Suburban Woes.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 16 Nov. 2018
Human Rights Campaign. “HRC Endorses Stacey Abrams for Georgia Governor.” Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org)
Lockhart, P.R. “Why the Political Fight in Georgia Is Far from Over.” Vox.com, 15 Nov 2018
Lockhart, P.R. “The New Lawsuit Challenging Georgia’s Entire Elections System,  Explained.” Vox.com Nov 30, 2018
“Meet Stacey.” Stacey Abrams for Governor (campaign website)
Smith, Allan, and Morgan Radford. “Brian Kemp Resigns as Georgia’s Secretary of State as  Governor’s Race Remains Too Close to Call.” NBCNews.com
Tagami, Ty. “Georgia Gubernatorial Candidates Stake out Education Plans.” The  Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 16 Oct. 2018
Taylor, Jessica. “Georgia’s Stacey Abrams Admits Defeat, Says Kemp Used ‘Deliberate’  Suppression To Win.” NPR, 16 Nov. 2018
“Top 10 Poorest States in the U.S.” Friends Committee on National Legislation
“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Georgia.” United States Census Bureau
Williams, Vanessa. “Stacey Abrams, Still Hoping to Force a Runoff in Georgia Governor’s Race,  Files a New Lawsuit.” The Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2018

The Mississippi Senate Race – How an Ideology of Racism Prevailed by Elmer Martinez

The Mississippi Senate Race – How an Ideology of Racism Prevailed

by Elmer Martinez

Source: Ashton Pittman for the Jackson Free Press
Would the 2018 midterm elections be the “blue wave” that turned the tide of our governing values? That question was one to be answered in elections across many states and districts. Among these stood a senatorial election that would spotlight the national debate: the campaign to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate.
Mississippi has a long history of reactionary racial politics. Republicans have held onto power in the state by means fair and foul for most of its existence. So it came as no surprise when Republican Governor Phil Bryant appointed another Republican to replace the ailing 80-year old Senator Thad Cochran. The appointee was state politician Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, 59, was the state Agricultural Commissioner with a background in cattle farming. She was raised in Brookhaven, a small city in Lincoln County, Mississippi. She was familiar with the agricultural symbolism of the state and its agricultural dependence on cotton and soybeans.
Hyde-Smith began as a Democrat until the election of Obama. In 2010, she switched parties to run for agricultural commissioner. “I’ve been a conservative all my life,” she said. “The reason I am running is jobs and the economy and less regulations.”
During her campaign for the Senate, she stuck very close to President Trump and eventually gained his official endorsement.  She supported a balanced budget amendment, reducing federal spending, a border wall with Mexico, abortion restrictions, and gun owner interests.
Cotton is harvested at Tyler Huerkamp’s Cotton Farm in Macon, Mississippi. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mississippi Democrats selected Mike Espy, 64, as their candidate for the Senate.  Espy is a historic figure in Mississippi politics. In 1987, he became the first Black politician elected to the U.S. Congress from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era. He was re-elected three times between 1987 and 1993, when he was tapped by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He developed a reputation as a pragmatic politician willing to work across the aisle with conservatives.
A moderate, Espy supports enforcement of immigration laws but not building a wall on the border. He believes in the constitutional right to bear arms but also in “common sense” federal gun regulations. He personally opposes abortion but concludes it is the personal decision of the mother.
Under the state’s arcane election law, the Senate race went to a runoff after neither candidate received more than half of the votes. Hyde-Smith led three other candidates including Epsy in the general election and seemed well-poised for victory. However, her advantage was squandered after an ugly comment at a campaign event. In response to a supporter’s question about debating Espy, she used an inflammatory parochial expression that if Espy invited her “to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
The comment sparked alarmed nationally in light of the state’s mean history of racist vigilante violence. Ultimately, the old ideology of white supremacy prevailed in the run-off election – Hyde-Smith won with 53 percent of the vote, or about 475,000 to 405,000 votes. She became the first woman elected to represent Mississippi in the Senate and will hold the seat until 2020.
Sadly her victory, rather than illustrating gender progress, instead reflected the larger national conflict over race and political identity. For the next two years, the Mississippi Senate delegation will symbolize violent racist values dating back to the Reconstruction.
At the same time, the closeness of the election — and the widespread condemnation of her racist speech — may point to light at the end of the tunnel.
Reference Sources
Blinder, Alan. “Mississippi Senate Runoff Election: Here’s What You Should Know.” The New York Times , The New York Times, 27 Nov. 2018.
“Mississippi Senate Election Results: Cindy Hyde-Smith vs. Mike Espy.” The New York Times , The New York Times, 27 Nov. 2018.
“Mississippi Economy.” Economy of Pennsylvania Including Pennsylvania Agriculture and Manufacturing from NETSTATE.COM. 
Pender, Geoff. “What You Need to Know about Mississippi’s Special Senate Race Candidates.” The Clarion Ledger , The Clarion-Ledger, 5 Nov. 2018.
Tornoe, Rob. “Mississippi Senate Election: Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith Overcomes ‘Public Hanging’ Comments to Win Runoff.”  The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, 27 Nov. 2018.
Photo of Mike Espy and Cindy Hyde-Smith by Ashton Pittman for the Jackson Free Press, Nov 7, 2018.
Photo of Mississippi Cotton Farming in “Cotton Farmers Use Corn to Increase Profitability” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  (www.farmflavor.com)

The Road to Lawful Marijuana in Massachusetts by Jessica Shotorbani

The Road to Lawful Marijuana in Massachusetts by Jessica Shotorbani

In November 2016, Massachusetts legalized the use of marijuana, becoming one of seven states in the nation to allow the recreational use of the drug. While the margin of yes to no votes was relatively small, the results were a resounding victory for all those who worked tirelessly on the campaign to legalize marijuana.
  So how did we get to this point and what were the contributing factors leading up the initiative for legalizing marijuana in the state? To begin with Massachusetts had passed a law allowing for the use of medical marijuana in the state back in 2012 and to many this was the first step in the right direction to getting the drug fully legalized in all its many uses. Even while the federal government still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no medical value.
question-4-page
But even before all of this happened, there were still people using and celebrating the drug at Boston’s annual Freedom Rally. The Boston Freedom Rally, commonly referred to as Hempfest, began in 1989 and is the second largest gathering of its kind right after the Seattle Hempfest. It is organized every year by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) and usually features vendors specializing in marijuana related products and musical performances.
boston-rally-2
            The event is monitored by officials, but most people see and treat it as a free for all to smoke and distribute the drug amongst themselves without much fear of persecution. While the event initially only drew avid recreational smokers of marijuana who were just looking for a good time, over the years the event became more and more politicized. Soon it turned into an activist movement that demanded social and judicial change.
            Then in the summer of 2015 a coalition of marijuana advocates came together to draft an initiative to legalize the drug. The law they came up with proposed the idea of the state regulating marijuana as it does alcohol. Meaning that no one under 21 could drink or posses it, it could not be sold to minors, and it would be taxed. In order to get the initiative on the ballot the coalition needed to collect about 65,000 signatures to have the Massachusetts’s legislation consider it as a state statue. The coalition ended up collecting 105,000 signatures.

boston-rally-3

            Despite having collected more signatures that what was required of them and clearly showing that the public supported the initiative, Massachusetts legislators did not act on the bill, meaning that it was not approved by a quarter of the legislature in two joint sessions to reach the ballot. In such cases, initiatives can circumvent the legislature if an addition 10,000 signatures are collected. The coalition went out collecting signature again and came back with 25,000, which firmly cemented the initiative’s place on the ballot. While many other coalitions, such as the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, tried to prevent the initiative from reaching that ballot, the attempts were unsuccessful and so began to raging war of yes and no campaigns.
            Campaigns arguing for and against the initiative, which became known as Question 4, began around the summer of 2016 and give each group a little less than 5 months to persuade voters with their arguments. Those for the initiative, such as Regulate Mass, argued that it would make marijuana, a substance that people were already using despite it being illegal, safer. It would no longer be a street drug that financially fueled drug cartels that sold the substance without any regulation or taxation. They received support from certain law enforcement officials, doctors, and business owners.
Opponents of Question 4 believed that marijuana had no place in Massachusetts and that legalizing it would promote the use of the drug and would ultimately cause more deaths and innocent children being exposed to drugs. However data from other states such as Washington and Oregon, who had already legalized and commercialized the drug, showed that such claims were untrue. In fact more deaths every year were being caused by alcohol than marijuana.
            Along with the campaigns, the local news media had a field day covering the topic and getting the latest on what the public thought of the initiative.
            Some media sources even took hard line stances on the Question through their editorial sections, thus exposing their readers to open and honest opinions of reporters who usually shy away from expressing personal thoughts and prefer just sticking to the facts. No doubt these editorials caused some controversy among readers who did not agree with the paper’s opinion.
            Around this time many government officials also made their opinions on the issue known such as Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Attorney General Maura Healey, all of whom were against Question 4.
            It was then time for the 2016 Boston Freedom Rally in September. The rally took on an even bigger meaning that year since voters would be making the decision of whether to legalize pot in less than 2 months. MassCann organized the rally as they normally did, but added an extra political element to the gathering’s atmosphere, hoping it would educate and persuade voters.

boston-rally-5

            Finally it was crunch time for the campaigns and they did their best to make their arguments with the public and to make sure that people actually voted. Anti-Question 4 groups continued to emphasis the family and safety issue while their opponents stressed the importance of regulating and taxing the drug to make it safer and even brought in some celebrities who supported the cause like Rick Steves, who was heavily involved in the legalizing of the drug in Washington.
rick-steves
It was also a big goal of the pro-Question 4 groups to make sure their supporters, who were mainly of the younger generation, were registered and ready to vote on November 8th since those under the age of 30 have historically had low voter turnout.
            November finally came and the voters of Massachusetts made their voices heard. By a relatively close margin Question 4 passed and made the recreational use and commercial distribution of the drug legal in the state. Campaigns like Regulate Mass thought their work was over now that the political battle had been won and all they had to do was wait until the law went into full effect, but that has not entirely been the case. While the use and possession of marijuana is legal, the selling of it, which was set to begin in January 2018 was postponed. In December 2016 just about a month after the initiative became law, Governor Baker and other legislators posted the opening of commercial businesses wanting to sell marijuana until the summer of 2018 citing that local authorities needed more time to adjust to the changes in business and law enforcement policies. Many people became angry at what they perceived to be a politically motivated move. MassCann organized a rally on the steps of the state house to express their anger and what they deemed to be an undemocratic decision.
            While legislators seem to be trying their best to stop Question 4 from going into full effect, the residents of Massachusetts who voted in favor of the bill are not going to give up so easily and will not stop on holding the government accountable. Marijuana has been part of the cultural makeup of Boston for decades and despite all the controversy surrounding this new law, it’s clear that people are still going to be lighting up, getting high, and relaxing no matter the political drama taking place behind closed doors at the State House.
 Works Cited
Angerer, Drew. “Globe editorial: Just say ‘yes’ on Question 4 – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. Boston Globe, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Baker, Walsh, DeLeo Form Bipartisan Anti-Marijuana Legalization Committee.” CBS Boston. N.p., 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
Bauter, Alison. “As Marijuana Legalization Supporters Rally, Baker Signs Retail Delay Into Law.” Beacon Hill, MA Patch. Patch, 30 Dec. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Freedom Rally, Sept 17 & 18, 2016.” MassCann/NORML. N.p., 18 Sept. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Hempfest.” Boston Hempfest – for the global marijuana march. Facebook , 12 May 2013. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Hempfest.” Boston Hempfest – Hempfest ’10. N.p., 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Hempfest.” Facebook , 6 Feb. 2014. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Hempfest.” Facebook , 24 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Boston Hempfest – The 2014 The Boston Freedom Rally will…” Facebook , 15 July 2014. Web. 02 May 2017.
Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts. Way Back, 23 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
Dumcius, Gintautas. “Travel writer Rick Steves is coming to Massachusetts to push for marijuana legalization.” Masslive.com. N.p., 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
Fenton, Josh. “Politics | Anti-Marijuana Legalization Campaign Launches TV in MA.” GoLocalWorcester. GoLocalWorcester, 19 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“Massachusetts Question 4 – Legalize Marijuana – Results: Approved.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.
Staff, Boston Herald editorial. “Editorial: No on Question 4.” Boston Herald. N.p., 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
Vaccaro, Adam. “The hidden political conflicts in the marijuana legalization debate.” Boston.com. The Boston Globe, 05 Sept. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.” Thanks to Drs. Susan Lucas, Wesley Boyd,… – YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana. Facebook , 4 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.” Today, our billboard went up on the… – YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana. Facebook , 14 Mar. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.” To vote YES on 4, you must be registered… – YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana. Facebook , 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
“YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.” We’ve collected more than 100,000… – YES on 4 to Tax and Regulate Marijuana. Facebook , 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 02 May 2017.

“The Walk for Hunger: An Ongoing Tradition” by Jessica Grainger and Alexander Krinsky

walk logo
On May 1, Project Bread will host the 48th annual Walk for Hunger. This ten mile route begins on the Boston Common, winds along the Charles River, and ends back on the Common.  It is expected that over 40,000 people will attend the event.  Since its inception, the Walk has raised over $100 million dollars from individual contributions of less than $100 each.
walk map
For those who live on the streets of New England spring has always been a time of great relief and salvation. The harsh winds subside and once more one can feel the difference in warmth between sunshine and shadow. Many homeless return to the city for and sunshine flowers blooming.
In 1970 Boston’s Project Bread charity came to fruition and began to promote awareness of the ongoing issue of urban hunger. The truth about hunger is that it exists today, as it has always existed. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report on food security some 9.6 percent of the state’s households struggled at some point in 2014 to provide food for their families.
That number is down from 10.6 percent in 2013. And while there is reason to celebrate that improvement, the USDA’s survey found that 4.1 percent of the state’s poorest citizens face “very low food security” this means actual hunger and a frequent lack of access to food.
In some Massachusetts communities, seven in 10 households are living in poverty. The state poverty level lands at just above 8 percent—the same as it was in 2010. So for those who were struggling before and during the Great Recession, there’s been no light at the end of the tunnel.
 boston_homeless
Food insecurity is much more common in family households with children children. Even more so for families with a child or children under the age of six. When families are led by a single parent with a children the percentage jumps to even greater heights.
At the Project Bread office in Boston, it was surprising to discover that an organization with such an admirable mission was located in very small quarters.   In a way, it helped solidify the humbling appeal of the organization and its programs.
Executive Director Ellen Parker said the main goals for the Walk are to prioritize hunger awareness while simultaneously advocating for community involvement: “With the way things are now, there is absolutely no need for it to be this way.  The solutions to ending hunger are attainable and within our reach.  What this event and Project Bread are all about is safeguarding the future of the individual.”
While Parker agrees that an obstacle facing this crusade is the fact that Project Bread doesn’t receive outside financial support, she still nonetheless is confident in the impact community involvement has on the cause, “The most resourceful solutions are intertwined into the activities of daily life: school, community help, and farmers markets.  So we make assistance available in many different ways that make those in need feel comfortable.”
Unlike some anti-hunger organizations, Project Bread does not rely on financial support and funding from multinational food companies.  Instead the organization opts to stand on its own and utilize the assistance it receives from local businesses and a wide, reliable network of volunteers.  Although the Walk happens annually on the first Sunday in May, it still undoubtedly is one of the most effective hunger intervention initiatives for the state of Massachusetts.

walk welcome phot

Theresa O’Brien of Dedham Massachusetts participated in the first annual Walk for Hunger in 1970. “At the time I was working at Fidelity Investments over on High Street and was first introduced to Project Bread and the Walk through a co-worker.  The organization was trying to reach out to local businesses and get them involved, and since then it’s obviously turned into so much more than that.”
O’Brien now works for a local non-profit South Shore Elder Services in Braintree, and appreciates the unrelenting interest Project Bread’s employees and volunteers take when preparing for the Walk, “I have participated in the Walk nine times, and each year I am further impressed with resources and networking.  This is an important event because it not only encourages community involvement on multiple levels, but it also increases awareness about a problem that has yet to go away.”
Due to O’Brien’s familiarity with the Walk, South Shore Elder Services has promoted fundraising among its employees for the last five years.  Additionally, many of the employees of the non-profit participate in the Walk, inviting family members and friends.
O’Brien stressed the comradery of many local non-profit organizations, saying that it is a very close-knit environment.  She stated, “Working at a non-profit means you meet a lot of people who are motivated to help any kind of demographic in despair.  At South Shore, its elder care for individuals who can’t afford to take care of themselves.  For my last job, it was special needs youth.  A uniting attribute for any of these organizations is that if you tell your colleagues to care and get involved in a prevention program, such as this Walk, then they genuinely will and tell everyone they know about it.”
Ben Goldstein of Attleboro is volunteering in the preparations for this year’s Walk, and echoes a similar sentiment to O’Brien’s regarding the motivations behind the annual event, “I worked at a Panera Bread in North Attleboro while I was in high school and each year they did fundraising in the spring for the Walk for Hunger.  I go to school at Wentworth so it became a tradition for me to continue to stick with the organization each year because of the proximity factor.”

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The Walk is also promoted by an array of other organizations, such as many local Panera Breads.  This year, the organizations that have raised the most for the cause so far include- Raytheon, Arbella, Project Bread, Arnold Bread, Cambridgeport Baptist Church, National Grid, and Blue Hills Bank, displaying a wide range of involvement.
According to Corporation for National and Community Service, roughly 62.8 million Americans dedicated 7.9 billion hours worth of volunteer service that was the equivalent of $184 billion in 2014.  Keeping those statistics in mind when examining the volunteer rate for the Walk, it is evident that this program relies on the dedication of its supporters.  Each year, an impressive 2,000 plus volunteers work with the Walk for Hunger in some capacity, proving that volunteerism is key in advancing this cause.
Works Cited

Expanding Educational Opportunities and Engaging Urban Youth.  Hale, Donnie Ray, EDD. NAAAS Conference Proceedings: 403-433. Scarborough: National Association of African American Studies. (2014.) (Ethnic NewsWatch)

Millman, Sara, and Robert W. Kates. Hunger in History: Food Shortage, Poverty, and Deprivation. 1995. Print.

Project Bread A Fresh Approach To Ending Hunger. Project Bread The Walk for Hunger, 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. (http://www.projectbread.org/walk-for-hunger/)

“The Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts.” A Tale of Two Commonwealths. Project Bread, 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

Image Sources: Project Bread “tool kit” and Boston Globe.

 

 

“Boston Farmers Markets: Ending Hunger With a SNAP” by Christopher Gavin

 

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Every year, there are a little more than 30 farmers markets and farm stands throughout the  city of Boston. If you count it, that could be thousands of hipsters searching vintage boutiques for that rare record or scouring produce stands for “organic” crops.
These nifty little markets also provide a portion of the city’s needy population with a basic necessity: accessibility to affordable nutritious foods such as the market in Dudley Square pictured above.
In 2007, the late Mayor Thomas Menino started the Office of Food Initiatives (OFI) to oversee the problem of urban hunger and childhood obesity. Part of its mandate is to help address the problem of communities abandoned by supermarkets.

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Over time, the “food deserts” constitute pockets of low nutrition food sources. The OFI does a fair amount of outreach in the city in order to compensate such neighborhoods in need.
In 2008, the office co-founded the Bounty Bucks program. The system provided farmers markets with the proper technology to allow users of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) debit cards to shop at the markets.
Better yet, there was even an incentive for welfare clients to eat healthier. For every $10 in Bounty Bucks used, shoppers got $20 worth of food.
Tosha Baker, director of the Office of Food Initiatives, noted that the $10 difference comes from community charitable donations:
“The matching funds from Boston Bounty Bucks (BBB) come from our office’s fundraising efforts through BostonCANshare. Each year, [the office] hosts a canned food drive and fundraiser; the food goes to the Greater Boston Food Bank, while the money goes towards funding BBB.”
As a result, farmers markets are actually helping to end hunger in Boston, or at least combat it in some modest way. But what about those food deserts? Are the markets really a viable option to make them fertile again?

Number of Markets 2015

Food stamps aren’t really food stamps these days. In 1996, the federal government changed the system from the old school pieces of paper to electronic cards, similar to debit or bankcards.
As much as you may be able to imagine how convenient the new technology could be for recipients—not to mention their ability to remove some of the stigma of using welfare stamps in public—the new system came with its own set of problems.
Before the switch, SNAP clients spent around $9 million annually at farmers markets, according to a study by the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness (BCFF). But without the proper card readers available to farmers and vendors, this number dropped steadily for years following the transition to a low of about $1.6 million in 2007.
 When Bounty Bucks began in 2008, the intention was to close the price gap of often-expensive organic produce. But the system also allowed for SNAP clients to begin spending money in farmers markets again and in its first year alone, the program “generated sales of $2,300 in combined federal benefits and incentive dollars,” according to the BCFF report.
Boston’s initiative coincided with a national up swing in welfare revenue at the markets, with $16.5 million in benefits being spent at 3,200 locations across the country in 2012, the study said.

Bounty Bucks Used

Hugh Joseph, an adjunct assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said Bounty Bucks began with “seed money” from the Wholesome Wave Foundation in Connecticut. “Since then, its funding has grown to more than $166,000 in 2013-14,” he wrote in a 2014 letter to the Boston Globe.
The program grew quickly around markets in cities across the state. In Boston, poor families had increased accessibility to nutritional foods and the city was on a good path to fighting hunger and obesity.

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 But what becomes apparent is how much more can be done with this program. What is needed is a broad mandate to provide all poor communities with accessible and well-stocked food markets.
To successfully intervene in hunger requires both the means to purchase food and the ability to access it easily. In 2010, Boston contained 30 percent less supermarkets per capita than the national average.
 “The lack of full-service supermarkets has forced many residents of these communities to rely on corner stores with higher prices and lower-quality products,” the BCFF report said.
“Alternatively, residents can travel to other communities to shop at full-service supermarkets, but this can be a challenge for households with limited time and unreliable access to a vehicle.”
Worse yet, some of these supermarkets may provide sub-standard service and cleanliness. In March, for example, the Globe reported one store in Roxbury shut down due to a mice infestation. It had received 127 health code violations.
In this environment, the farmers markets help to fill a critical gap in food provision. Last year,there were 29 farmers markets and farm stands that accepted Bounty Bucks out of 33 total markets.

Number of Markets Using Program

It’s no secret that these roadside food stands can play an important role in the isolated neighborhoods of the metropolitan area. They provide poor families with access to healthy food, especially those that are clean and organic.
“Participation has increased across the city,” Baker said, “from the Fields Corner Farmers Market in Dorchester, to the Boston Public Market downtown.”
Even with markets scattered about Boston, SNAP clients living in food deserts have benefited from Bounty Bucks and farmers markets, Baker said.
 “When surveyed, 87 percent of SNAP users participating in [the program] said it was key to their ability to access fresh, healthy food,” Baker said. “[BBB] helps to make Boston’s food system more equitable, while increasing revenue for local farmers and farmers market vendors.”
 At the same time, it would help if better information was available on the markets locations and days of operation.
“When [SNAP recipients were] asked why they did not shop at farmers markets a variety of reasons were provided,” the BCFF study said. “The most prominent reasons were because they did not know where the market was located (39 percent) or because the location was inconvenient (29 percent).”
And city residents could benefit from the opening of more farmer’s markets. It’s a relatively straight forward process to designate a new farmers market in the city of Boston, that’s the good news.
The OFI lays out a step-by-step procedure on its website. It all starts by designating a manager and finding a public or private location. From there the manager fills out a market profile, which lays out the retailers’ intended schedule and its components including whether or not there will be food trucks and if Bounty Bucks will be accepted, among other inquires.
 The reality, of course, is that the problem of hunger in the city is far more complex than can be addressed by farmers markets. “The nutritional impacts of Boston Bounty Bucks have not been measured at this time,” Baker said.
However the program can positively “influence the consumption of vegetables among SNAP clients.” The report claimed that families that shopped at the markets consumed veggies 0.5 times more per day on average than those who did not.

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The takeaway about Bounty Bucks-farmers market program is that it is a modest step in the right direction to combating Boston’s food deserts.
The markets provide many types of produce where it is needed. One veggie stand at a time, and a few Bounty Bucks along the way, Boston is finding a way to make gains against urban hunger.
And with additional financial and educational resources, the city of Boston can do even more.

References

Baker, Tosha. “Boston Bounty Bucks.” E-mail interview. Apr. 2016.

“Boston Farmers Markets.” Boston Farmers Markets RSS. Boston Farmers Markets, 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://bostonfarmersmarkets.org/bounty-bucks/>.

“Cityofboston.gov – Official Web Site of the City of Boston.” Starting A Market. City of           Boston, 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.  <http://www.cityofboston.gov/food/farmers/permitting.asp>.

“Food Stamps for Fresh Food: More Produce, More Benefits.” The Boston Globe [Boston] 29 Nov. 2014: n. pag. Www.bostonglobe.com. Boston Globe Media, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Joseph, Hugh. “Menino-led Program Pointed Way on Fresh Food for the Needy.” The Boston Globe [Boston] 8 Dec. 2014: n. pag. ProQuest Newspapers [ProQuest]. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Obadia, Jennifer, and Jennifer Porter. Farmers Markets: Impact on Fruit and Vegetable Consumption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Clients. Rep. Boston: Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, 2013. Print.

Office of Food Initiatives. “Office of Food Initiatives.” City of Boston. City of Boston, 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. <http://www.cityofboston.gov/food/>.

 Strategies to Combat Childhood Hunger in Four U.S. Cities. Rep. Washington D.C.: United States Conference of Mayors and Sodexo, 2010. Print.

“2015 Farmers Markets.” City of Boston (2015): 127-28. City of Boston. City of Boston,           Office of Food Initiatives. Web. Apr. 2016.

Photo Source: “Dudley Grows.” The Facebook photo album of the Dudley Square Farmers Market and Project Food in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.