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Day 2 of the SNAP Challenge

19 Jun

Having lost the gusto I had on Day 1, today was a little less exciting and a lot more like a regular work day sans coffee. Another egg and banana breakfast, a glass of water. Around 11:30am, I really needed something to snack on but wasn’t quite ready to dive into my spaghetti, so I headed downstairs to the green market for a piece of fruit. As my coworkers each bought a $4 lemonades, I picked through a pile of peaches ($2.99/lb) for my sugary treat and headed to the scale with what I thought was an average sized peach. It turned out to be a half-pound monster that cost me $1.67. This immediately made me reconsider my snack urge: how hungry was I? The $31.50 budget comes to about $1.50 per meal. Was I hungry enough to eat a SNAP-budget-meal-worthy-peach all at once? I decided I wasn’t.

For the next hour I let the peach sit my desk and mask the smell of farts that was emanating from myjames-and-giant-peach garbage can full of egg shells (yea I said it, boiled eggs smell like farts. don’t act surprised). I decided around 1pm that it was finally time to eat my leftover spaghetti and have some more water. Finally, at 3pm, that peach met it’s maker: I carried it to the kitchen and sliced it in half to find the most deliciously ripe and juicy peach I’ve ever had. I packed up the other half to bring home for later and brought my bounty back to my desk before anyone saw the peachy gold I had foraged outside.

With the saga of the peach over and dessert to look forward to later, the day carried on. After some overtime and visit to the vet with our cat, I got home at 7:45. For a few minutes I considered eating bean salad for dinner, but realized I needed to prepare something for lunch tomorrow: back to Western Beef I went. As I shopped, Paul happily ate his turkey chilli, which he topped with cheese and put in a tortilla. This is the fourth chilli meal he’s had in 2 days.

I came home having spent $8.34 on peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, an apple, and a can of chopped tomato. I turned the bean salad into bean chili with some pantry spices, leftover pasta sauce, and can of chopped tomato, and topped it off with some chicken. It was about 9:15pm.

As I sit here now typing at 10:30pm, my stomach feels pretty full. I’m guessing its the massive amount of beans and eggs. Not enough to stop me from devouring the rest of that peach, but enough to make me appreciate a fibrous diet with ample greens and fruits.

Rachel’s Budget: $20.98 spent, $10.52 left

Paul’s Budget: $31.50 spent, $0.00 left

 

Click headings below to learn more:

About the Farm Bill and proposed cuts

About the Food Bank for NYC & SNAP Challenge

Learn about SNAP eligibility standards and allowances in NYC

See the USDA requirements for eligibility and do the math

Learn the difference between SNAP, WIC, and EBT

TELL CONGRESS TO PROTECT THE SNAP PROGRAM

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Spotlight On…Scott Warren of Generation Citizen

7 Jun
2013

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 2.53.16 PMScott Warren is the co-founder and Executive Director of Generation Citizen (GC). He is a current recipient of an Echoing Green  Fellowship, was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, and was recently recognized by Forbes; 30 Under 30 as one of the most promising social entrepreneurs in the country. In other words, this guy is onto something big and people are taking notice.

The mission of Generation Citizen (GC): “To strengthen our nation’s democracy by empowering young people to become engaged and effective citizens.  We envision a democracy in which every citizen participates in the political process. GC teaches teenagers direct political action.  Through an innovative in-class curriculum, students work with local leaders to fix local problems.  Through this real-world experience, our teens are building an active democracy. Our innovative, action-based program will revolutionize civics education in this country. Generation Citizen is building a new generation of youth activists and leaders; a generation inspired and equipped to make change.”

Below is a Q&A session that took place with Scott, describing how he came up with the idea for GC, how it fits into our society, and what he’s forward to in the future.

 Question: Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you start GC?

Scott Warren: I’m originally from San Diego, California, where I lived until I was eight years old.  My dad then joined the State Department, and I started moving all over Latin America and Africa.  Through that experience, I had the opportunity GC logo-leftto emerge a number of emerging democracies; including the first truly democratic elections in Kenya’s history, in 2002 (they just had another election just a month ago).   In one of the most rural areas of Kenya, I witnessed lines of people hundreds deep, passionate about using their voices to make a collective difference. When the opposition candidate won the election (a rarity in an emerging democracy), the tremendous potential of democracy in action became immediately apparent.

My work since has focused on catalyzing that passion for the democratic spirit, co-founding GC as a Brown University senior in 2008 with the strong desire to revive our country’s democracy through our schools. In college, I worked to end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, serving as the National Student Director for the organization STAND, and leading on successful efforts to divest Brown, the City of Providence, and the State of Rhode Island from foreign companies doing business in Sudan. Reflecting on my social justice work, I identified two principles that led to the founding of GC:

  • Most secondary students have not developed the skills or mindsets to become engaged in their communities or the democratic process.
  • The most effective way to encourage young people to participate in that process is through direct engagement in it.

I believe that our nation’s schools can and must play a critical role in preparing young people for active and effective citizenship. Through our action civics approach, students have the opportunity to learn civics by actually doing civics.  Through participation in the program, students will become motivated for long-term engagement, and have the necessary skills and knowledge to lead change on important community issues. Our students will break the cycle of disengagement that contributes to the exclusion of entire communities from our democracy.

Q: What themes do you see with regard to issues currently being championed by students here in NYC?

SW: While we do see some similarity in terms of focus issues in NYC, the projects that often stand out the most (and have the most success in directing concrete change) are those that are highly specific, focused on a problem that may impact the entire city but has very specific repercussions in a particular neighborhood or community.  For example, students often select topics that could fall under the broad buckets of “community safety” or “public health,” but the projects that truly stand out as having driven real, concrete change are those that dig a level deeper.  A class at Mott Hall High School in Harlem effectively addressed gang violence at a bus stop near their school by working with the local police office to place an undercover policeman on duty, and a class at Concord High School on Staten Island decided to address a highly localized problem, prescription drug abuse. Many of the students had been impacted personally by this issue and some were recovering drug abusers themselves. They developed a peer mentoring program to educate local middle school students about the consequences and dangers of prescription drug abuse, and are working with a State Senator on next steps.  

GC encourages the selection of these types of highly specific, targeted focus issues, recognizing that politics in inherently localized. Certainly the projects are relevant for the entire city, but we push our students to get specific and truly use the political process at the local level.

Q: Do you think encouraging young people to engage in action-civics falls to parents, educators or government?

SW: It falls to a combination of parents, educators, and the government to engage young people in the political process.  GC believes, however, that it can work to engage every young person through the institution that affects the most people on a daily basis- our schools. In the future, our current students will serve as models for civic participation for the next generation, but schools should continue to provide students the opportunity to engage in a targeted, personally relevant learning experience through the GC action civics curriculum.

While local governments could offer more resources and make information around elections or the development of legislation more widely available, their support of civics education in schools (during regular school hours) should be their main role in preparing young people for engagement in the democracy. At the federal level, we believe the government can and should prioritize civics education, and hold schools accountable to concrete goals, recognizing that if our young people are not learning to engage in the political process, the future of our democracy is at risk.

Q: What has been the feedback from local decision makers regarding youth speaking out and working to make a change?

SW: Through the GC program, middle and high school students have the opportunity to directly connect with local decision makers, seeking feedback on their action projects and lobbying them for support. Local leaders visit GC classrooms or serve as a judge at Civics Day (our end-of-semester “science fair for civics”) and truly engage in the work of our students. In December, NYC Comptroller John Liu attended Civics Day and addressed the importance of students speaking out working toward change. In many cases, these leaders have incorporated students’ ideas into their professional decision-making.

One of our main goals is to get leaders to recognize that young people have valid and important ideas that can help to make their communities a better place.  We do not want our program to tokenize young people- we want to see them as real participants.

Q: The U.S. lags far behind most counties academically. How does the US measure up to other countries when it comes to civics and youth engagement?

Not good.  In terms of overall voter participation, the United States ranks 137th out of 170 recognized democracies.  It’s difficult to compare civics, since every country has their own systems.  But overall, maybe because we consider ourselves a more developed democracy, we spend less time developing our own future citizens.

Q: How do you think teaching civics in schools will impact our county’s future? 

SW: GC envisions a democracy in which every citizen, regardless of background, participates, ensuring that government is responsive to the needs of all citizens. We believe that teaching action civics in our nation’s public schools can play a critical role in realizing this vision. 

In our society, when a young person turns 16, they are incredibly excited to receive their driver’s license.  But in the year before, they must take multiple driving lessons, tests, and practice behind the wheel.

When young people turn 18, they receive the right to vote.  But most are not excited, and even fewer have been properly trained as citizens.  It is almost as if we expect young people to wake up at 18 and know how to run our democracy.  Effective civics education can be the driver’s education course for democracy.  And if we do this effectively, we’ll have a more educated populace, a better run government, and a more functional democracy.

Q: Are you advocating civics be taught in every school in the country? How early do we start?

SW: Yes.  And we should start early.  When done well, civics education should be included in every other subject.  Every first graders should be learning about how their opinions and thoughts matter as engaged citizens.  This is not currently happening, and one of the primary aims of GC is to get every school to realize that teaching civics is not a nice to have, but a need to have

Q: What can community leaders and parents take away from a program like this? Can what students are learning in the classroom be translated to home life and social relationships?

SW: The skills that students develop through participation in the program extend far beyond the GC classroom. Public speaking, research, engaging and persuading local decision makers – these are skills that will support students’ academic and professional endeavors long after the completion of our program. It is important for community leaders and parents to note that, in many cases, students are actually creating change on the ground in their communities – not only are they developing skills for future civic engagement, they are truly improving their communities in the present, and focusing on changes that are sustainable and will have real impact (as opposed to a one-time service learning project).

Additionally, we are currently piloting a program that will connect some of our most motivated students to local internship opportunities with non-profit organizations and electoral campaigns, creating a direct link between the GC classroom and professional relationship building.

Q: What is the biggest takeaway you hope students learn at the end of this course?

SW: Through participation in GC, we aim for students to understand that taking action on important community issues, and being politically engaged, is not a one-time experience. It is not something you learn in a GC class and, after the close of the semester, never address again. We aim to increase students’ civic knowledge, motivation and skills so that they are excited and able to lead change and be engaged for the long-term. 

We want students to recognize that their voice matters, both for their individual well-being and for the betterment of their communities. They have a critical role to play, and it extends far beyond the walls of the classroom. After participating in the program, GC students often recognize that they truly can make a difference. One former GC student and current college freshman stated, “GC changed my life. It showed me that no matter how big or little, I could make a difference in my community, and if I try hard enough, the world.”  We believe that participation in our program can help students understand not only that they are capable of making a difference, but that the health of our democracy and our nation depends upon their doing so.

Q:  Where do you see yourself and GC in 10 years?

SW: My life’s work will be working to improve the concept of democracy, whether in this country or abroad.  This may include educating others, or serving in policy or politics.

In ten years, GC will be the biggest civics education organization in the country, working with over 100,000 students per year. We will have built formal partnerships with school districts nationwide to ensure that every student in the communities we serve is receiving an effective civics education.

We will continue to work toward our long-term impact goals, described below. By 2050, GC will have played a leading role in the revitalization of our democracy by having:

  • Directly worked with over 1 million young people; and
  • Partnered with every major urban school district nationwide to create an effective action civics curriculum.

      Because of our work, our country will be one in which:

  • All citizens are actively engaged our democracy;
  • Young people recognize political participation as vital to improving their lives and communities;
  • Young people form one of the largest voting blocs in the country (increased from the 20% of 18-29 year olds that voted in the 2010 midterm); and every school nationwide provides the tools and experiences needed for effective citizenship.

How to Help After Hurricane Sandy

31 Oct
2012

Hurricane Sandy has left a path of destruction across the eastern seaboard, and now is the time for us to come together and help our fellow man. Below are any and all opportunities I’ve found to help recovery efforts, whether its volunteering your time or donating money to those who are already dispatched into communities across New York. This list is focused on NYC, but I welcome any new opportunities in the Tri-State Area and beyond: please email giveandgetnyc@gmail.com and your organization’s needs will be posted.

At this time, the donation of time and money is much more beneficial than in-kind donations, as the efforts needed to package and dispatch such items is time consuming. Unless expressly noted by an organization that they are in need of specific items, which some are and have, please consider a monetary donation before giving in-kind gifts.

VOLUNTEER

FOOD BANK FOR NEW YORK CITY: If you are interested in joining the Food Bank for NYC within this critical time of need, please join their mailing list HERE. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us at volunteerfoodbanknyc@gmail.com.

NYC SERVICE: To be dispatched wherever there is a need in NYC, email nycservice@cityhall.nyc.gov with your name, email and borough.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK: As of October 31, the park remains closed, but they will need all the help they can get with clean up efforts over the next several days. If you would like to volunteer, please email Sarah Ward (sward@brooklynbridgepark.org), and they will alert you when it is time to mobilize.

NEW YORK CARES: As the City’s lead organization for the management of unaffiliated volunteers, New York Cares’ Emergency Response Program ensures that volunteers can be quickly and effectively mobilized in the event of a disaster. If you are already a New York Cares volunteer please click here. You will be prompted to sign up to express your interest in being contacted about disaster recovery projects after Hurricane Sandy. We do not yet know the extent of the need, or where or when volunteer projects will take place, but we will contact interested volunteers once we have a better understanding of the response needed. Thanks for your support as we help the city respond. If you are not already registered with New York Cares please click here.

RED CROSS: If you’d like to volunteer at a Red Cross shelter and are…

  • Over the age of 16
  • Available for 12 hour shift from Wednesday, Oct 31 to Friday, November 2.
  • Be ready to deploy to a shelter location outside of New York City and stay for up to 72 hours.
  • Able to lift and carry 30-40 lbs
  • Comfortable working with people in stressful situations

If you meet these requirements, please fill out our Spontaneous Volunteer Application.

Hurricane Sandy has forced the cancellation of approximately 300 American Red Cross blood drives in 14 states along the East Coast, resulting in a shortfall of more than 10,700 units of blood and platelets thus far. To help by donating blood in NY, click here: http://www.redcrossblood.org/nyp . For other states, click here.

NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE: The Public Advocates office is helping to mobilize volunteers. Register here.

JERSEY CARES: Register with Jersey Cares to volunteer for recovery projects in New Jersey, and they will email you when projects are in place: http://www.jerseycares.org/HOC__Volunteer_Registration_Page

NJ EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER HOTLINE: If you are interested in volunteering in NJ, call the state’s volunteer emergency response hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397). This hotline was established earlier this year to enhance the state’s emergency responsiveness by harnessing New Jerseyans’ strong spirit of service. If storm conditions preclude the hotline from being answered by live operators, volunteers may call one of two backup hotline numbers: 609-775-5236 or 908-303-0471. Volunteers may also send an email to rowena.madden@sos.state.nj.us. Read more here.

STATEN ISLAND RECOVERS: This is a recovery organizing site for Staten Island in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The site allows people to offer/request assistance, and is coordinated by the folks at Occupy NYC and community organizations on the ground. Visit the site: https://statenisland.recovers.org/

UPPER WEST SIDE SHELTERS (Updated 12:50pm, 10/31): “Upper West Side shelter needs help: clothes in large sizes needed for Sandy evacuees at MS 118, 154 West 93 St.” There are three shelters in the neighborhood. The one at John Jay College had enough volunteers last night (not sure about tonight yet) but the following two were running low on volunteers and will need help again tonight, including for overnight shifts:

Brandeis High School on West 84th Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues).

MS 118 on 93rd Street (between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues)

If you can volunteer at an evacuation shelter or know anyone who can, please contact Shelly Fine at sfine50@aol.com or 917.453.3911.

DONATE

MAYOR’S FUND TO ADVANCE NEW YORK: The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is committed to improving the lives of New Yorkers. Right now, you can donate directly to hurricane relief in NYC through this website: https://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/donate/donate.shtml

RED CROSS: The best way to donate is to make a financial gift. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. In-kind donations are not needed at this time.

NYC RESCUE MISSION: If you can purchase or have extra food/water–take it to NYC Rescue Mission, 90 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013-4494. They are also in need of dry ice, generators, and AA and D batteries. If you are not in the area but wish to donate, you can do so through their website: https://nycrescue.org/give/donate-now/

THE HUMANE SOCIETY: The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team is assisting animals and people in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, and is prepared for ongoing disaster relief after this historic storm. To make a donation click here

THE BOWERY MISSION: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, The Bowery Mission is providing safe shelter and food to more homeless and displaced New Yorkers, effectively tripling its normal capacity. The supply of food and pantry items is drastically decreasing at a time when it is needed most. Make a donation by clicking here, or donate over the phone by calling 1-800-BOWERY-1 (1-800-269-3791)

CharitySub.org — Simple. Collective. Giving.

3 Jan
2012

New subscription for giving, launching with Childhood Obesity in January.

BROOKLYN, NY, January 1st, 2012 — CharitySub.org, a brand new social enterprise for charitable giving launches this month. CharitySub brings the stories of causes and charities to life to inform givers on where to donate and how their donations make a difference. With their subscription for giving, individuals come together to collectively impact causes in need, $5 at a time. January’s featured launch cause is Childhood Obesity.

In developing the concept for CharitySub.org, the four co-founders wanted to address three specific areas: researching relevant causes in need, finding the relevant charities to donate to, and ensuring a meaningful donation through collective giving. In doing so, CharitySub takes the guesswork out of giving for their subscribers, making it fun and easy for everyone to make a difference as part of this great community of people improving the world.

How it works: Each month, CharitySub.org handpicks 3 non-profits that make a difference within that featured cause. Subscribers then select which of the 3 charities will receive their $5 donation. After each charity has put their donations to work, CharitySub will report back on the impact made by the collective community, bringing your contribution full circle.

The team’s belief is that by coming together to learn, give and share, their subscribers make a big impact on those in need. Even though each CharitySubscriber donates a small amount of money, the power of the collective will make a real change.

January Launch Cause — Childhood Obesity:
On the first of each month, a new cause will be featured to bring awareness to topics and issues that need our collective help. January’s launch will focus on the Childhood Obesity epidemic our country is currently facing. With 1 in 3 children falling within the overweight or obese categories, this may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. By becoming a CharitySub member, you have the ability to learn about this cause and the 3 non-profits working hard to curb this epidemic.

About CharitySub.org
Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, CharitySub.org is an online social enterprise, established in October 2011. The organization officially launches on January 1st, 2012 with a focus on telling stories of causes and non-profits to bring awareness to those in need and drive educated giving, $5 at a time.

Contact:
Amy Vermeer Crews
Co-Founder/Director of Communications
(917) 287-0475
amy@charitysub.org
www.facebook.com/charitysub
@charitysub

It’s My Park Day

22 Oct

Ocotber 23rd is It’s My Park Day, so get out there and give a little back to your favorite park. Throughout the city, New Yorkers will be chipping in to clean up and help maintain their parks and playgrounds. Below are some links to help you find a park near you-strap on those boots and get rakin’!

 

NYC Parks and Recreation Department

Partnership for Parks

MillionTreesNYC