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Letters: Fighting rural hunger; Gov. Nixon opposes water diversion from Missouri

To the Editor:

On Nov. 19, I attended a media event at Community Kitchen, Inc. in Moberly.  The event was held to celebrate the installation of a new commercial dishwasher, but it was actually about the continued success of the organization’s efforts to feed the hungry in their community.
Community Kitchen, Inc. is providing a critical service to Moberly and the surrounding area – attempting to reduce food insecurity.
Food insecurity is a real issue in rural communities.  According to Feeding America, 3 million rural households or 15.4 percent of the people living in rural areas are food insecure. This is due to several factors such as greater unemployment and underemployment, the lack of flexible and affordable child care and less access to communication and transportation networks.
There are many groups around Missouri like Community Kitchen with which Rural Development is privileged to partner. These organizations are attempting to resolve food insecurities at the local level by offering access to food and providing a space for the community to come together.
Rural Development is well aware of the problem of hunger in rural America. In addition to programs such as Community Facility that funded the Community Kitchen project, we are involved in several initiatives to improve food access and reduce hunger. Among these are the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act; Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food; Farmers Market Promotion and Farm-to-School Programs. Each of these programs is designed to connect resources to needs.
Hunger remains an issue in America. Through partnerships with organizations such as Community Kitchen, Rural Development is working to make a difference. Thank you to all the individuals and groups working daily to respond to those in need in their community.
Rural Development stands ready to assist local efforts to improve the quality of life for Missouri residents. We have over 40 business, community development, economic development, energy, housing and infrastructure programs.
Contact for local Rural Development offices can be obtained by visiting the Missouri Rural Development website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/MO-Home.html.

– Janie Dunning
State Director
Missouri Rural Development

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To Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

I have been made aware of the Kansas Water Office’s intention to begin a study on the feasibility of constructing an aqueduct to divert 4 million acre-feet of Missouri River water to Western Kansas. Even assuming the project would be financially feasible, such a diversion would adversely impact Missouri. I am opposed to this diversion, and therefore request that you direct the Kansas Water Office to reconsider the planned study of this ill-advised project.
The Missouri River is a resource that is vital to Missouri’s way of life and our economy. From supplying drinking water supply to our communities to bringing agricultural and other goods to markets throughout the world, the River is the lifeblood of numerous Missouri communities. We have worked for many years, and fought many legal battles, to ensure that the River is managed properly. Thoughtful and reasoned discussion and cooperation, rather than  unilateral plans for massive diversions, must be the guiding forces in planning for the River’s use.
Proponents of this diversion suggest that it would not impact downriver users, citing past years in which flooding along the river has occurred. There have certainly been years in which Missourians have suffered the effects of Íloods, both naturally occurring and induced bythe U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s unnecessary and unjustified “spring rise” and other mismanagement, most recently in 2011. But there have also been years, like 2012, in which crippling drought has threatened drinking water supplies for Missouri communities and hampered the ability of Missouri agricultural producers and shippers feed, fuel, and clothe the world.
Both of our states would benefit from a more global discussion of the river’s future use, particularly in relation to the use and misuse in upriver states. I would welcome the opportunity to Visit with you in this regard. In the meantime, however, neither of our states is well-served by the approach exemplified by this project.
– Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

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