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Prison farms for Food Pantries & Soup Kitchens

  • Subject: [cg] Prison farms for Food Pantries & Soup Kitchens
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 10:36:29 EDT

As an old restaurant union member and shop steward (Hotel Restaurant 
Employees and Bartender's International Union NY Locals 1, 69, 6 and finally 
100) I oppose any kind of scab or unfree labor.  Trying to clothe myself and 
my family in non-sweatshop goods (bless the Union Label when we find it!) is 
horribly time consuming and expensive. And I support small farmers through 
our local greenmarket. A grower of perennials from a greenmarket a block away 
from my apartment has been the source of many plants in the Clinton Community 
Garden. His business and family are very important to our neighborhood.  He 
has the same migrant workers every year because they believe in health 
coverage for their workers - it's the only time that some of these guys can 
get their teeth fixed. 

Bottom line: Prison labor should be used on farms ( and I would underline 
that I'd want this to be a voluntary program) to produce food for our food 
pantries and neighborhood soup kitchens.  Could free men and citizens produce 
that food? Of course, but our food distribution system has become so 
corporatized, agribusiness so divorced from the real needs of our society 
that many in this country  suffer chronic hunger  amidst seas of plenty.  

Can community gardens help? Sure and many make outstanding contributions to 
our neighborhood's food security by enabling low income families to raise 
food for their families, share the excess with seniors,  neighbors,  or grow 
a row of vegetables for a local program. 

Hunger in America is a national disgrace.  Our well developed gleaning and 
surplus redistribution programs can only do so much. There's even a program 
in Arkansas where sports hunters donate game to local food pantries. Those 
who choose to open their eyes can see the hungry - unfortunately most don't 
and the media doesn't choose to enlighten it's viewers. 

Bottom line:  Prison farms or industries should not be used to undermine 
anyones livelihood.  I only advocate prison labor to raise food for Food 
Security - food pantries and soup kitchens.  Community gardens need to do 
more in the fight against hunger in this country, in both education and 
production, but community gardens can't do it alone unless there's a 
community garden on every block. 

That said, I'm off to sell t-shirts, baseball hats, our cook book and honey 
from our 2002 harvest at the Clinton Community garden ( got a loud voice and 
no shame - a throwback to pushcart days.) Tomorrow I'll be stirring soup at 
my synagogues soup kitchen ( my Sunday of the month.) 

Thinking about harvests and hunger in America,

Adam Honigman
Volunteer, Clinton Community Garden

To use a goverment program to undermine citizen's jobs

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