Food rights activists from around the world will descend on the coastal U.S. state of Florida next week to protest homelessness and hunger facing millions of people in the United States and across the globe.
The Aug. 20-26 protests in Tampa were organized to draw attention to the Republican Party’s aggressive stance on tax cuts for the rich and reductions in the social safety net for poor and working families.
The Republicans hold their national convention in Tampa on Aug. 17 to formally anoint Mitt Romney as the party’s candidate for the presidential election in November.
“I have seen people who did not eat for five days. This is happening in the world’s wealthiest country,” Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs and an organizer of next week’s protests, told IPS.
More than 46 million U.S. citizens currently rely on the federally-funded food stamp program to help meet their nutritional needs – more than one in seven people. The average benefits amount to about 143 dollars a month, even as food prices continue to rise.
“What’s going on with the poor here and abroad is economic manipulation,” said McHenry. “Access to food is a right, not a privilege, but our leaders don’t recognize that. That is why there are so many people in jails because they are poor.”
The United States leads the world in incarceration rates, with more than two million people living behind bars.
The Barack Obama administration intends to cut food stamps funding by about two percent, or 1.6 billion dollars, a year. Besides attacks on health-care, the Republicans are seeking much greater cuts to the program, whose funding in 2011 was 78 million dollars. (Read more)