Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression, Updated and Expanded

The New Deal
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Thank you! Published by Suzanna Dawson Modified over 4 years ago. Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement How Nutritious Are School Meals? A program for all children or a program that prioritizes poor children? Customers or students? A business or a social program? An interruption or a integral part of the school day? A nutrition program or a food program? Pay now or pay later?

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A cost or an investment? A reflection of the American food system or a tool to change it? Not: Is it broken? Plight of poor children The final chapter. Parents Anyone interested in child nutrition, public education, public policy, and social welfare. Department of sociology. Janet Poppendieck.

Sweet Charity?: Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement by Janet Poppendieck

University of California Press. School Nutrition Association Reviews of Free for all, fixing school food in America. The second burst of legislation came in the first nine months of The victory was a landslide: When the new Congress convened in January , Democrats held two-thirds of the seats in both the House and the Senate.

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Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression In fact, as Janet Poppendieck makes clear in this newly expanded and updated. Editorial Reviews. From Library Journal. This book provides historical perspective on two of Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression (California Studies in Food and In fact, as Janet Poppendieck makes clear in this newly expanded and updated volume, it was a normal, predictable.

The election signaled the political realignment that created the New Deal coalition, and it gave Roosevelt a mandate. This second legislative burst enabled some of the best-remembered policies of the New Deal, including the Works Progress Administration, federal support for organized labor, and the Social Security program. Contemporary journalists called these two torrents of legislation the First and Second New Deal, and historians have generally followed their lead. For decades, both scholars and popular writers argued that the two phases of the New Deal were ideologically distinct, although they often disagreed on the precise nature of that difference.

The most urgent matter that Roosevelt confronted when he took office in March was the banking crisis. A new round of panic the month before the inauguration prompted governors in state after state to close their banks to prevent runs. In six more, the vast majority of banks were closed.

In the remainder, depositors could withdraw only 5 percent of their funds.

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The solution: distribute surplus commodities to the poor while also—and politically far more important—providing farmers with a paying outlet for what they produced. Some businessmen and New Dealers considered the Depression the result of destructive competition. Not all Americans benefited equally from the New Deal, however. Not nearly as good as her book about school food, but I still learned a lot. Thought provoking but a little dry for my tastes. New York: Liveright,

Some politicians and political observers urged Roosevelt to nationalize the banking system. New Deal efforts to shore up the banking system did not end with these emergency measures. That figure has been raised many times since. Although FDR initially opposed deposit insurance, it almost immediately halted bank runs. These two moves dramatically stabilized the banking system.

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Even during the prosperous s, more than six hundred U. In the early s, that number climbed into the thousands. Beginning in , fewer than a hundred U. Other New Deal financial measures were aimed at steadying the securities markets or strengthening the economy more generally. Coupled with political instability in Europe, the end of the gold standard also prompted overseas investors to begin exchanging gold for dollars, further increasing the U. The following year, Congress created the Securities and Exchange Commission to guard against market manipulation.

Having stabilized the banking system, FDR turned quickly to the problem of unemployment relief. In the spring of , some With millions unable to pay rent or buy food, men, women, and children lined up at soup kitchens, grubbed for scraps in garbage cans, hopped freight trains, or moved into makeshift shantytowns that sprang up in parks and open spaces on the edges of American cities.

FDR first focused on the problem posed by young men—a problem captured in a film entitled The Wild Boys of the Road. Teenagers and men in their twenties had fewer skills and less experience than their older counterparts; thus, they were more likely to be unemployed, to leave home, and to become hobos and vagrants. Events in Europe suggested the threat that such footloose young men might pose to the social order.

He proposed a Civilian Conservation Corps CCC to employ those between the ages of 18 and 35 on a variety of forestry, flood control, and beautification projects. To be selected for the program, men had to be single, healthy, and U. Living in military-style camps operated by the War Department, they built roads, firebreaks, trails, and campgrounds.

Breadlines Knee-Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression

They also planted trees, fought fires, and drained swamps. Although the CCC kept many young men from taking to the road, it was hardly enough to relieve the distress of American families. Some FERA funds were funneled through the states. Hopkins had held a similar position in New York State when Roosevelt was governor there. Both men felt great sympathy for the poor, and both also knew how to use FERA to political advantage.

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FERA made life marginally easier for many, but it never had sufficient funds. As the United States headed into the fifth winter of the Depression, unemployment remained high. In November , Hopkins persuaded Roosevelt to establish yet another agency to employ people directly. Drawing tools and materials from army warehouses, the Civil Works Administration CWA put Americans to work fixing roads, docks, and schools; laying sewer pipe; and installing outhouses for farm families.

The CWA paid far more than FERA and did not subject all workers to a means test; it was soon employing more than 4 million men and women.

Breadlines Knee Deep In Wheat: Food Assistance In The Great Depression

Americans made it through the rest of , but as the new Congress convened in early , the unemployment rate still hovered near 20 percent. Moreover, some 5 million Americans remained on relief. Headed by Hopkins, the WPA put more than 3 million people to work in its first year. Roosevelt wanted all projects to be labor intensive and useful, and when possible to come to a natural end. He also wanted WPA to pay more than relief but less than market rates so as not to compete with private enterprise.

WPA workers built highways, schools, airports, parks, and bridges. They bound books, supervised recreation areas, ran school lunch programs, and sewed garments for the needy.

WPA workers even entered the arena of public health, building hospitals and clinics, conducting mass immunization campaigns, and churning out posters that promoted nutrition and warned against the dangers of tuberculosis and syphilis. Many of those posters were produced by employees of the Federal Arts Project, part of a massive and unprecedented federal venture into the arena of culture.

It also sent folklorists to record the music and stories of Appalachian banjo pickers, southern bluesmen, Mexican American balladeers, and Okies in resettlement camps in the West. The Federal Music Project sponsored symphony orchestras and jazz groups, while the Federal Arts Project commissioned muralists and graphic artists.

Both hired individuals to teach music, painting, and sculpture to schoolchildren. If New Dealers wanted to aid unemployed artists, they also hoped to democratize culture and to generate support for New Deal programs and political values.

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No New Deal initiative better illustrates this goal—or the controversy it generated—than the Federal Theatre Project, which brought plays, vaudeville acts, and puppet shows to small towns across the country. Finally, the Federal Theatre Project developed a new theatrical genre, the Living Newspaper, to dramatize current events and expose social issues. One Living Newspaper, Power , traced the development of the electrical power industry and urged greater support for public ownership of utilities. Other Living Newspapers dealt with agricultural policy, the shortage of affordable housing, the labor movement, and syphilis.

Not surprisingly, Federal One drew intense criticism from critics on the right: In June , a more conservative Congress dissolved the Federal Theatre Project, charging that it spread New Deal propaganda and encouraged racial mixing in stage productions. Budget cuts to the other cultural programs soon followed. Conservatives warned that all WPA programs were endangering the American way of life by providing jobs for the undeserving. Not all criticism of the WPA came from the right. Leftist critics noted that the WPA was chronically underfunded; despite its size, it could provide jobs for only a third of those who needed them in the United States.

Since that standard differed by region, gender, and race, it reinforced existing patterns of discrimination. Many were grateful to have a job rather than a handout. Both the crisis in the banking system and the spike in unemployment were problems brought on by the Great Depression.

Rural America had been mired in depression since shortly after the end of World War I, a situation that farmers found particularly vexing given the general economic prosperity of the s. Western ranchers slit the throats of livestock they could afford neither to feed nor to market. Dairymen in upstate New York dumped milk into ditches, while growers in California lit mountains of oranges on fire. New Dealers believed that boosting farm incomes would help not only rural Americans but also the entire U. It pointed to the years just before World War I as the ideal of parity.

While the act was vague about the exact mechanism the government should use to achieve this end, it established a new agency and sanctioned a variety of remedies that farm advocates had been battling over for years. To prevent farmers from planting surplus crops, the AAA levied a tax on flour millers and other crop processors and used the proceeds to pay farmers for taking land out of production. At the same time, the agency tried to maintain a floor under prices by keeping harvested crops off the market when prices were low. It did this by offering farmers loans secured by their crops at above-market rates, then storing the surplus.

If crop prices rose, farmers could repay the loans, redeem their crops, and sell at the higher prices. Cotton and wheat farmers had already planted their crops by the time the farm bill passed. A severe drought on the plains constrained the wheat supply naturally, but AAA officials paid farmers to plow up 10 million acres of cotton. The agency also bought and slaughtered some 6 million piglets and , sows to prevent a future glut of hogs.