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Food Assistance in the United States

Food Assistance in the United States  By: Laura Crouch In the United States, millions of people face hunger and food insecurity each day. Unable to provide for themselves and their families, they turn to food assistance programs for both short and long term needs.    The USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social… Continue Reading »

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union

The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) was founded in Arkansas in 1934 by a group of socialism-inspired sharecroppers. The STFU was notably an interracial and gender-inclusive organization. They sought relief from the federal government for populations neglected by the New Deal’s agricultural policies, such as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Continue Reading »


Polio is caused by a virus; it affects the body by attacking the central nervous system, specifically those neurons essential for muscle activity. The first U.S. polio epidemic swept across the country in 1916, and then again in the late 1940s and 1950s. Continue Reading »

Organization of Municipal Charities and Corrections (1916)

Paper presented by L. A. Halbert, General Superintendent, Board of Public Welfare of Kansas City, Missouri
at the National Conference Of Charities And Correction Held In Indianapolis, 1916. “If we were able to ascertain the activities of all incorporated towns and cities, it would show a tremendous volume of activity and an expenditure of many millions of dollars.”Continue Reading »

Public Assistance–Values and Lacks

Through provisions in the public assistance titles of the Social Security Act, great progress has been made in fulfilling the obligation of government to secure and protect human rights. For the first time in the United States, the legal right of a needy person to public assistance was established for four groups. Requirements for approval of state assistance plans included: the right to apply for assistance and to have prompt action taken on the application, and if eligible, to receive unrestricted money payments for as long as needed, to have personal information kept confidential, except as required for administration of public assistance, and to have the right of appeal to a state agency and the courts if denied assistance by a local agency. These provisions were all intended to prevent discrimination and humiliation and to help recipients maintain or rebuild their independence.Continue Reading »

Case Work in the Administration of Public Relief: 1935

In your citation from the Mayor’s Committee on Unemployment Relief the statement occurs – “The one million men and women who are unemployed today in New York City as a result of the depression cannot be regarded as maladjusted individuals in need of case work.” This is another version of the old “worthy” and “unworthy” concept, which holds that ordinary poor are to be regarded as just maladjusted people who may be subjected to an unpleasant discipline called case work; but the new or worthy poor, or the poor “through no fault of their own” must be protected against this case work.Continue Reading »

A Discussion of Public Relief: 1940

This report was prepared by Anna Kempshall, Director of Family Service, and most likely to have been presented to the Board of Directors of the Community Service Society November 4, 1940. The subject of relief was very timely because a number of the New Deal programs enacted in 1935 created the nation’s first universal social safety net that included federal and state funding for financial grants to poor individuals and families. Continue Reading »

Report from Flint, Michigan, November 30, 1934

What to me was of outstanding interest here is the way the unemployed are behaving about relief. The workers on the whole are “hard babies,” the living conditions are bad, the struggle for existence has been terrible even before the depression, but the place is to a certain extent a yardstick of behavior in depressed, deflated conditions….I spent a day visiting homes with investigators. They tell me that relief is actually raising standards in some of these shack lives. One of the leading doctors told me that medical care in the City was now better than it had ever been before. In the homes that I visited less than 25 per cent were “unemployables.” All, except a very few, asked for clothing or other articles such as a new stove, that neighbors had received from relief. I certainly had a feeling that few would choose to stay on relief but there was little feeling that it was a painful process to ask for relief.Continue Reading »

Report, Flint, Michigan, November 17, 1934

As one investigator said, “The workers in Detroit used to run up debts between employment,–run a rent up for several months, owe a grocery bill for several months and borrow on the furniture. They don’t do that any more. When their money is exhausted they come to relief.” While several men said to me with evident satisfaction that they had no debts, others pointed out that the grocers and landlords no longer feeling so optimistic about the economic possibilities of their debtors will not extend credit as they used to.

An old Ford worker said, “I used to be able to pick up odd jobs such as washing cars. My wife did, too, then. We used to worry along.” A Chevrolet man said “Each year my savings grew lean and less until now I am at rock bottom.” These men are both applying for relief for the first time this Fall. They expect to get jobs by the first of the year if not before.Continue Reading »

You Can’t Pauperize Children

First let us review the past. Before the Social Security Act was passed, most of the states had what was called Mothers’ Aid laws or Widows’ Pensions. The effect of the Social Security Act was that the legislatures revised and broadened their laws because they had to comply with the more liberal provisions of the Social Security Act.
The difference between the old laws for assistance to dependent children and the Social Security law is that in order to get the money, the assistance must be made statewide. In the past, the assistance was not statewide, and one city or county would give assistance here and there.Continue Reading »

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