U.S. Ag chief paints food stamp picture

Rainbow PUSH honors King's birthday

January 16, 2012

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(WBEZ/Natalie Moore)
A replica of 1967 King's Resurrection City, which highlighted U.S. poverty.

A local breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday emphasized eradicating poverty.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs the food stamp program that helps 46,000,000 needy Americans.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave the keynote address at the annual Rainbow PUSH King celebration in downtown Chicago. He defended his boss – President Barack Obama – from GOP attacks that he’s the so-called ‘food stamp president.’

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.

Vilsack painted a picture of the people who receive benefits.

"Over 50 percent of them are either senior citizens or children – senior citizens who paid their dues, fought in wars, have protected this country, have supported their families and their communities and finding themselves on fixed incomes with not enough to feed themselves," Vilsack said.

Dozens of politicians came out to the morning King celebration.