Michigan: The Ongoing Fight Against Hunger

  PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Our Infographic

Michigan: The Ongoing Fight Against Hunger

By Andrew Markman and Tyler Berger

2. Persona and POV statement
Persona: Our Persona and POV statement

 

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Raising the minimum wage so that people who receive less income can spend more on food.

SOLUTION 2: Government tax incentive for those who donate money to local food banks.

 

SOLUTION 3: Creating and supporting programs to spread awareness among people in all communities about how to aid local food banks and support food services.

SOLUTION 4: Creating services to aid low-income families in learning better budgeting strategies and smarter spending on food.  

 

SOLUTION 5: See if schools can offer the kids a program where they can take home leftover lunch items after the students have been fed for the day

 

SOLUTION 6: No tax on food for families of a certain size who make below a certain level of income

    BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Act 43 of 1973- this act regards the distribution of food stamps. We believe that those who qualify for food stamps can be similar to the people who qualify for our proposal, but we do not aim to replace the food stamp program. What we want to do is fill a need for people who live right above the line at which they could currently get federal aid because those are the people who quietly suffer from hunger on a semi-regular basis.

 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will have large impacts on people who struggle to find the money to provide enough food for their families on a nightly basis within the city of Detroit. Making food slightly cheaper will, in theory, help those in need, and significantly reduce the hunger rate in the city of Detroit and potentially in other cities with similar populations. The median household income in Detroit in 2016 was $28,099, meaning that the families in the middle of this socioeconomic area are just above the federal poverty line, and living in a city where healthy food is expensive and difficult to find. Logically, they will struggle to healthfully feed their families on a regular basis without any aid, but there is no program currently designed to help them.

 

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We learned about a majority of these problems through Food Gatherers, and augmented our knowledge with statistics and alarming, touching facts about the current state of food problems in Michigan.

 

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Our service and activity have us invested and motivated to solve a problem for many who are struggling. Seeing the people who are affected by this very issue has been very shocking for us and is propelling us to work harder and smarter for the benefit of the hungry people in our own community.

   

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue: Michigan: The Ongoing Fight Against Hunger

 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: The first consultant we met with requested to remain anonymous and we respected this person's decision. S/he discussed the significance of the hunger that impacts populations around the world, especially children. When s/he expressed their concern about malnourished children, we followed this path of inquiry and discovered that this individual was knowledgeable in this field. S/he told us that roughly 20% of children in Michigan live in poverty, with housing incomes under $25,000 for a family of four. We decided to ask why s/he thought that was the case and our consultant told us that Michigan had lost one million jobs over the past decade and speculated that this may have been an important factor as to why so much of the population in Michigan lives in poverty. This person has been deeply impacted by the significant loss of jobs over the last decade, and is conducting research of their own that s/he was happy to share with us.

 

CONSULTATION 2:  The second consultant we interviewed also wished to remain unknown, but agreed to reveal that s/he works with The Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM). The mission of FBCM is “to address and alleviate hunger statewide by increasing emergency food resources and advocating on behalf of the hunger relief network.” Our consultant told us that many of the cities in Michigan are facing unprecedented unemployment rates and the communities suffer as a result. Because of this issue, many families live in poverty. What we found most interesting from this discussion was that regional food banks in different geographic territories are in place not only to ensure that each of Michigan’s 83 counties is served, but also to minimize the chances of territorial overlap, so resources are used in an efficient way. Additionally, we were surprised to see that one of the food banks was Food Gatherers, where both of us are doing our community service hours and learning about the program and the challenges it faces.

 

CONSULTATION 3:  For our third consultation, we decided we wanted to get the perspective of someone who is experiencing a food shortage in their household. We walked around State Street and interviewed a homeless person on State Street whose name was Carlos. We asked Carlos many questions about why he was homeless and how he gets his meals. Carlos was a pleasant conversationalist and eager to help us understand his plight. We learned that he had been homeless for about six months because of a recent injury that had caused him to lose his job, due to his limited motion following the injury. He said that it has been impossible for him to get another job because of the lingering effects of this injury. He told us that while he continues to look for legitimate work, he gets his money by collecting cans out of dumpsters and soliciting donations from kind people. He told us that he was aware of food banks but that he has never been to one and doesn’t plan on going. We asked why he chooses not to accept help from organizations like Food Gatherers, and he told us that so far he has been able to take care of himself, and he plans to continue doing so.

Consultation 4: For our last consultation, we spoke with one of the supervisors at food gatherers. Here, we gained a better perspective and understanding about the daily struggles many invididuals go through, where they can not feed their family or even themselves sometimes. We learned that jobs are super hard to find for some people, especially those with disabilities. Overall, it was just a great experience to speak with someone who is surrounded by those experiencing this issue so often.   

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal

Meeting with Professor Kupperman was extremely helpful and instrumental in helping us to find focus and more purpose in our proposal. Professor Kupperman started out by making us think harder and more in-depth about why our problem actually exists and what outside factors contribute to it. Our problem regards people who do not have the means to purchase healthy food to feed their families or themselves, but who also fall above the federal poverty line, and therefore cannot use EBT or food stamp programs. We interviewed a working man at Little Caesars Arena, and after speaking with him, he inspired our POV. Professor Kupperman appreciated the fact that we actually went out of our way to speak to a real person who struggles with a real issue. At first, we only looked at hunger from the perspective of the person we interviewed, William. William is a man who does not earn enough money at his current job to provide healthy food every night for his whole family. Prior to meeting with Professor Kupperman, we had not thought about why this problem might occur, other than the obvious scenario of a lack of money. Professor Kupperman expanded our manner of thinking and shifted our focus so we could understand why William, who has a job, cannot afford a good dinner for his family every night. This change in thinking involved us incorporating the external factors of William’s life into his ability to provide for his family. We began to analyze different issues, asking ourselves: How much is William paying in electricity bills, and how can he minimize that cost? How is William getting to work; is he taking public transportation? Where is William purchasing his food, and can he find a nearby store with cheaper prices? After meeting with Professor Kupperman, we shifted from asking “How can William make more money?”, to “How can William make better use of his money?” This change in thinking has allowed us to tackle many of the contextual problems from different angles that we would not have been able to see or understand prior to this meeting.

  Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Our research progress was shaped and inspired by our consultants. After carefully considering what problem we wanted to work on solving, we decided to focus on how to provide food for those in need after speaking to William Long, a worker at Little Caesars Arena. We had planned on interviewing many people who struggle with a variety of issues, but after our first interview with William, we knew we wanted to work on the problem of access to healthy food for people who live above the federal poverty line but still struggle to provide adequately for their families. William’s story and struggle truly hit home with us, gave us motivation, and inspired us to do anything in our power to help people like William. After researching hunger and poverty statistics, we believed it possible that our problem could be fixed in a relatively cheap manner compared to many other global issues. We read scholarly articles and found statistics regarding hunger rate, starvation rate, approximations of the money needed to solve this issue completely, in addition to way more alarming and helpful statistics. Our research revealed that it would cost approximately $680 million to completely eradicate hunger problems in Michigan. Comparatively, the damage done in Northern California by wildfires is predicted to cost $3 billion to clear. While wildfires do damage like this on a yearly basis, fixing hunger in Michigan could be done permanently for less than a quarter of what it would cost for California to address climate change responsibly. We have remained positive throughout our research process, and the possible solutions we have created have yet to hit a “dead end”. Since federal programs already exist to aid families who live at or below the federal poverty line, and since it is not only families who live in poverty that struggle to feed themselves, we have decided to propose legislation that will address the families who fall in between complete self-sufficiency and consistently needing government aid. Our final thought came as we were brainstorming ideas and working on our proposal. We came up with the idea of eliminating taxes on food purchases for families that make under a certain amount of money per year per family member they need to feed. We have not determined what the appropriate income level is for this program, and intend to leave that for the legislature to decide. So far, we have identified minor counterarguments, but nothing significant enough to discourage us from pursuing this proposal.  

 

 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Throughout the process, we decided it would be best if we could be together every step of the way, especially when we interviewed William for our POV statement and met with the three consultants. Together, whether through FaceTime or in-person meetings, we conducted research and shared ideas that we had individually brainstormed since our last meeting. When one of us came up with a solution or idea, we made sure the other would play the devil’s advocate and argue the idea from another point of view. It was very important for us to do that and we have been successful thus far. For example, Tyler thought of an idea in which all elementary schools would provide a mandatory healthy breakfast and lunch to all students so they would get proper nutrition. We then, together, did more research on the topic and found that it was not feasible for three reasons: individual food allergies, students who choose to bring their own lunch, and a general lack of funding for such a program. Overall, we are both very proud of the contributions we have made, and we are looking forward to hopefully presenting in Lansing at the end of April.

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS in Michigan, 1,414,700 people are struggling with hunger. 

WHEREAS 16.6% of children in the state of Michigan go to sleep hungry. 

WHEREAS a healthy diet and food balance is necessary for all everyday activities, and a lack of it impacts people negatively in a variety of things.

WHEREAS a significant portion of Michigan residents live above the federal poverty line, but remain unable to access or afford healthy food on a consistent basis.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. Individuals in the state of Michigan should be legally exempt from taxes on food if they meet a certain yearly income dependent on their family size.

2. The percentage of children who go to bed hungry in the state of Michigan will drastically decrease.

3. Citizens of the state of Michigan will be able to spend more income on other essentials.

4. Citizens of the state of Michigan will have an improved quality of life and personal health.

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Some people will think that this proposal is unfair, as they may believe that benefits for some citizens are inherently discriminatory against others.

2. The determination of who may be eligible to receive this tax exemption is, by nature, a subjective issue, and there is no guarantee that it will be determined fairly.

3. The state tax exemption on food will take away funding that is allocated towards other things around the state.

4. People may lose jobs as a result of the reduction in tax revenue, as stores will earn less money.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The only cost of our proposal would be the loss of tax revenue for the government, in order to feed families and make sure children and adults do not go to bed hungry. This proposal does not require additional funding; however, stores and the government will lose some money in tax revenue and this could have negative implications. People who may reject this proposal will likely be those who would lose this tax revenue. If this proposal were to be implemented nationwide, with state-determined regulations, we believe the required funding for this venture could be acquired from our current defense budget.

References:

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/06/27/study-michigan-kids-poverty-midwest/732377002/

https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/michigan-2018-report/

https://mcac.memberclicks.net/poverty-in-michigan

https://www.foodgatherers.org

https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/michigan

https://datausa.io/profile/geo/michigan/#housing

 

 




 

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Total votes: 17