Posted in Uncategorized, tagged agriculture, eagle theatre, economy, farm, grants, growth, Howard Henderson, howard shapiro, lending, loans, rural, usda on October 10, 2012 |
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds a wide range of activities to boost the economic strength of small towns and rural areas. It doesn’t just fund farmers, although farmers may benefit from a more vibrant rural economy.
To that point, here’s an story from the Philadelphia Inquirer by Howard Shapiro on how the USDA is helping a New Jersey theater.
“A little semiprofessional theater amid the farmland of Hammonton, N.J., has become the beneficiary of more than a half-million dollars in grants and low-interest loans from a most unlikely arts angel: the U.S. Department of Agriculture. …
“The Agriculture Department money is coming directly to the theater in three acts, so to speak: a $23,000 grant to improve its historic building and its ticketing and computer programming; an $89,000 20-year loan at 3.5 percent interest, mainly to enhance stage equipment; and a 30-year loan of $482,000 at 3.38 percent interest, to buy its building.
” ‘It’s an unusual project for the USDA to finance,’ said Howard Henderson, the department’s rural-development director for New Jersey. “This is a fascinating way we’ve been able to benefit a rural community.’
“The Rural Development program, financed by Congress, exists to strengthen or help establish facilities in rural communities that will improve downtowns, provide services, and encourage local activities. But money usually goes to such projects as firehouse restoration or, as in New Jersey’s northern Sussex County, a plan for hospice units.”
The Eagle Theatre applied for the money because, according to Henderson, everyone around Hammonton knows how active the USDA has been in supporting growth. More.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged atm, bank, bank on san francisco, check casher, economist magazine, financial, india, payday lender, rural, teller, tellers, traveling tellers, unbanked on October 15, 2011 |
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Recently the Economist magazine offered a pretty comprehensive summary of efforts that government entities, nonprofits, and banks have made to get people who do not use banks (the unbanked) into the banking system. The push is not only because banks want customers. In fact, many of the new programs for reaching the unbanked require banks to make big concessions.
The bigger concern is that low-income people and immigrants get taken advantage of by payday lenders, check cashers, and the like.
One program that is now in several U.S. cities actually started with the innovative Bank On San Francisco. Bank On San Francisco emerged to meet a need. First, a broad range of stakeholder groups evaluated why low-income people often preferred using payday lenders. Having found that the customers liked the hours, locations, and apparent clarity about costs, the groups developed a system that could meet more needs. (In New Haven the police were involved in a similar effort because too many immigrants carried all their cash on their persons, and that led to too many muggings.)
I’m interested in this issue, and so I was intrigued by a NY Times story on traveling tellers rural India.
“Swati Yashwant, a 29-year-old mother of one, is part of a growing legion of roving tellers intent on providing bank accounts to the nearly 50 percent of India’s 300 million households that do not have them. Using a laptop computer, wireless modem and fingerprint scanner, Ms. Yashwant opens accounts, takes deposits and processes money transfers for farmers and migrant workers in this small town 70 miles south of Mumbai, India’s financial capital.
“To reduce the risk of robbery or theft, no transaction by law may exceed 10,000 rupees (about $212). And in practice, many amount to no more than a dollar or two. But with the bulk of India’s population living in villages that have never had a bank branch, Ms. Yashwant, with her electronic devices, is a missionary of financial modernity.” Read more here.
The Indian idea looks like one that might be gainfully imported to the United States.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged childhood, food desert, fridge, fruits, mark menjivar, menjivar, michelle obama, nourishing, nutrition, obesity, photo essay, photographer, photography, refrigerator, rural, supervalu, urban, vegetables, wal-mart, walgreens on July 26, 2011 |
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I have been reading about Michelle Obama’s latest efforts to encourage good nutrition in childhood.
“Executives from Wal-Mart, Walgreens, SuperValu and other stores joined Michelle Obama at the White House on [July 21] to announce a pledge to open or expand a combined 1,500 stores in communities that have limited access to nutritious food and are designated as ‘food deserts.’
“With the pledges, secured by the Partnership for a Healthier America, which is part of Mrs. Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity, the stores aim to reach 9.5 million of the 23.5 million Americans who live in areas where finding affordable healthy foods can be difficult. In those areas, many people turn to fast food restaurants or convenience stores.” Read the New York Times article here.
On a related note, John sent me a really interesting link from photographer Mark Menjivar, who documents the insides of people’s refrigerators. He includes a one-line insight into the person whose food he is photographing. Unsurprisingly, the fridge with the least food in it belongs to a “street advertiser” who lives on a $432 fixed monthly income.
See the fascinating photo essay here.
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