‘It’s not your fault’: Some furloughed by shutdown turn to charities for food
In recent years, heavy downpours and high winds have eroded much of the soil in this once thriving community of farmers, and what soil remains is less fertile. Most of Keur Moussa’s men have left to try to find paid work in Dakar, and the women who are left behind are doing what they can to address soil erosion so that they can grow enough food to feed their families. When my colleagues and I arrived in Keur Moussa, we were greeted by a group of women, several with babies in slings on their backs, who were working together to build a dike by hand. They used buckets and wheelbarrows to gather rocks to form a barrier to trap rain from occasional heavy downpours. They were proud to show us what they accomplished together — there were several dikes, hand-dug water storage pits, and vegetative windbreaks — and they were hopeful that their next farming season would be better. Yet food security depends not only on the amount and quality of food available, but also on the number of people who need to share it. And unfortunately, planning families is not an easy thing for many women in Senegal. In fact, 30 percent of women there have an unmet need for family planning — they would like to be able to wait a couple of years before having their next child, or end childbearing all together, but they lack family planning services. Addressing this unmet need can be life-changing for women. At the most basic level, it can literally save the lives of women and their children . It can allow young women to stay in school , multiplying their options and increasing their earning power — money which is often invested back into the family . This is critical in efforts to reduce poverty and combat hunger in a place like Senegal, where almost half the population lives in poverty and 16 percent of children suffer from stunting due to undernutrition. And addressing women’s unmet need for family planning can help to slow population growth , a critical factor in considering the sustainability of food systems.
Not only do fast-food restaurants offer a valuable entry into the workforce for millions of people, 40 percent of the workers in the industry are students, they said. These misleading efforts use a very narrow lens and selective data to attack the industry for their own purposes and fail to recognize that the majority of lower-wage employees work part-time to supplement a family income, said Scott DeFife, an executive vice president at the National Restaurant Association. The inclusion of the Earned Income Tax Credit shows just how misleading these efforts are, as it is a tax credit specifically designed for working families, not public assistance, and is used to inflate their numbers. But many other workers are trying to support households, advocates said. They pointed to the growing activism among fast-food workers, poorly paid employees of federal contractors and other low-wage workers, who for the past year have been calling a series of small but growing one-day strikes. The workers are demanding raises to $15 an hour and an easier route to forming unions. The job actions are supported by organized labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union and Change to Win, who are lending organizing staff and cash to the effort. The aim of the unions is to gain new members, and short of that, increase pressure for raising the $7.25-per-hour federal minium wage while highlighting the nations growing economic inequality. Tionnie Cross, 29, works at a McDonalds in downtown Brooklyn, where she earns $7.35 an hour. Most weeks she is assigned for no more than 28 hours, leaving her to rely on food stamps and government-sponsored health care. I have a job and Im broke, she said. It is really bad because I dont want to depend on taxpayer money to survive. Fast-food industry representatives call the workers demands unrealistic. Raising wages for cooks, cashiers and drive-through window workers who earn a median wage of $8.69 an hour, according to the report by the Illinois and Berkeley economists would ultimately lead to fewer jobs overall, they argue.
“These folks are fish out of water and they feel humiliated, like they have lost their dignity.” This is the second offering Hahn’s group has made to federal employees. Last week, the group passed out 2,700 pounds of food to 71 different families. And if the government shutdown continues, Hahn said he anticipates his group will continue this sort of offering. The shutdown that began on October 1 has impacted hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors in the Washington region, including people at the epicenter of the partisan shutdown showdown in Congress. Washington-area food banks have responded to an unexpected need this fall created by the shutdown, their efforts already tested by a continued, uneven economic recovery and tough job market. Men and women were on both sides of the help on Monday in Calvert County — those receiving and those distributing food. Those helping out included one person who works for the Department of Justice and another employed by the Navy. CNN agreed not to identify furloughed workers receiving food due to a combination of their embarrassment and not wanting to hurt their employer. “Getting paid helps, but it doesn’t help right now,” said one, who acknowledged she’ll probably get paid once the shutdown ends. Still, the woman said she is struggling to put food on the table. Some told CNN they were living paycheck to paycheck. “The biggest thing (people are feeling) is fear,” said Hahn.