Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: United Bronx Parents and New York City’s First-Ever Citywide Free Summer Meals Program
My presentation will consider their accomplishment in light of a changing discourse about what it meant to receive government assistance. The little support there had been for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty was well on the wane by 1971; meanwhile, the apocryphal image of the “welfare queen” was waxing full in the public imagination. At a moment when the media was increasingly targeting poor women of color, children as direct recipients of state aid remained sheltered from anti-poor and racist rhetoric, seen instead as innocent and blameless for their hunger and poverty. That food was the demand also mattered. Unlike health care, clothing, childcare, and culturally appropriate education, which New York City parents were simultaneously demanding during this time, the right of children not to go hungry was an issue that resonated deeply with politicians, the media, and other elites.
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