Tuesday Roundup: Food on Wheels

Lunch Express • Secession Plan Stalls • Japan’s Rural Politics • Backyard Poultry • The Night Sky


The Washington Post

Children make their way off the bus after eating on the Lunch Express. Four buses deliver a total of 350 lunches each weekday in the rural areas surrounding Greeneville, Tenn. The buses visit trailer parks and housing developments. Children in these areas are often stranded in the summer, and, for some of them, the meal on the bus is the only reliable meal of the day.

The Lunch Expresses – The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow has written an interesting article about an inventive way folks in rural Tennessee are helping fight poverty. The Lunch Express is a bus that travels through impoverished areas handing out lunch to children, free of charge. A local food bank thought up the idea to take pressure off eligible children, who instead of finding their own transportation to summer meal sites, have the food brought to them.

Secession Plan Stalls – Citizens of northeastern Colorado are no longer threatening secession, but are looking to change up representation in hopes of obtaining more voting power. Last month the idea of secession was floated around and found some attention, but after legal barriers and lack of public support it no longer appears to be a viable option. The group, made up of ten counties, is now contemplating the Phillips County Proposal, which proposes state representatives be elected by county, rather than by population.

“Rural residents are now a disenfranchised minority of Colorado,” said Phillips County Administrator Randy Schafer, who initially offered the plan. “National and urban values and needs are trumping rural values and needs.”

Japan’s Rural Politics – Chico Harlan of the Washington Post penned a piece in the Guardian today that takes a look at the representation of rural voters in Japan. Rural areas wield disproportionate power due to an electoral system that analysts call antiquated and that Japan’s Supreme Court says is “in a state of unconstitutionality.” These regions are allotted more representatives in parliament – known as the Diet – than they ought to have based on their share of national population. Recent attempts to reform the system have only been somewhat effective.

Even with greater representation, many in rural areas feel they are powerless, as thousands more flock to the cities every year. The country is also headed toward joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free trade agreement that includes Australia and the United States, and many rural citizens fear it will have harsh effects on Japans agriculture industry. “If we proceed with this kind of reform, there will not be people in rural areas anymore,” said Shigeyuki Tanouchi, the Kochi regional manager of JA-Zenchu, Japan’s massive agriculture co-op.

The Battle for Backyard Birds – A recent trend of raising backyard chickens in urban settings is coming under fire as more and more city dwellers with minimal knowledge of how to properly raise the birds dump them off at shelters and sanctuaries. Raising chickens can be noisy, messy, labor-intensive and expensive, and after the birds are done laying eggs, many critics say wannabe farmers no longer wish to care for them. Hundreds of chickens are dropped off at animal shelters in New York and California each year, occasionally dozens at a time.

However, backyard chickens enthusiasts claim this is a small part of populations that own urban based chickens. “We’ve experienced smell, noise, pests, etc., way more from improperly cared for dogs and cats than we have from backyard chickens,” said Rob Ludlow, owner of the fast-growing website, BackYardChickens.com.

Interstellar Sky – Lastly, photographer Mike Taylor made the best of a clear night and captured some stunning pictures of the night sky.

“Living in rural Maine offers me some great opportunities to capture the beauty of our night sky with mostly very little light pollution. This spot at the top of a ridge in the small town of Palermo is a great example,” Taylor wrote in an email to Space.com. “On this particular night there was quite a show of greenairglow in the sky and a just a bit of yellow/orange glow from nearby towns on the horizon.