Let's tackle poverty, both at home and at the Legislature
Last week, I attended the first meeting of the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020. This commission was established legislatively during the 2006 session and is guided by the principle that all people deserve adequate food ...
Last week, I attended the first meeting of the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020. This commission was established legislatively during the 2006 session and is guided by the principle that all people deserve adequate food and shelter, meaningful work, safe communities, access to health care and education. The legislators serving on this commission will work with faith-based and non-profit organizations, the business community, and government entities to determine the best approach for ending poverty in our state by 2020.
I think it's significant that the first meeting of the commission occurred during the week of the Minnesota Partners to End Hunger Coalition's "Food Stamp Challenge." This was a statewide event that challenged families to limit spending on groceries to $3 a day per person. This amount is derived from the average federal food stamp allocation of $87 per month per person. My family of five participated, so at $3 a day for five days, we could spend a total of $75 on groceries. We went out for groceries on Sunday night and spent about $68, leaving a little extra in case of an emergency later in the week.
Our diet for the week was obviously going to have a good deal of inexpensive carbs like rice and potatoes. For protein we relied on eggs, beans and a pork roast on sale for $1.45 a pound. We made the roast last for three days. Thank goodness June is Dairy Month, meaning milk is less expensive, because otherwise, I'm not sure that we could have afforded it.
In the end we made it after using our "emergency" funds to replenish milk and bread late in the week. The reality of this situation really hit home when my son asked me the familiar question, "Hey Dad, can I have an apple?" I had to tell him no, they cost too much. Fresh fruit and vegetables simply don't fit into this tight budget. This is why the work of the Commission is so important - children's nutritional needs cannot be neglected because their families can't afford healthy foods. Families shouldn't have to live in unsafe neighborhoods or substandard housing. They shouldn't be forced to choose between paying their bills and taking their sick child to the doctor.
Although I only lived on this fixed income for a week, I now have a deeper understanding of the struggles and tough decisions that some families must endure to make ends meet. The government and private sector need to work closely together to overcome poverty. I'm pleased to be part of the Commission to End Poverty, which will establish the necessary alliances and approaches to best help those who do not have enough to get by. I've always held firm the conviction that regardless of income, all families deserve a high quality of life and equal access to education and health care. This ideal will continue to guide my work in the Legislature and on this commission.
Contact State Senator Tony Lourey with your questions or comments on any issue. You may call him at (651)-296-0293, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or write to 205 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.