It’s been more than 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty. During the 1960s, the Appalachian region was facing economic hardships, partly because of mechanization in the coal fields. In 1965, President Johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, which created the Appalachian Regional Commission.
We'll hear from Earl Gohl, the co-chair of the ARC, to talk more about what the ARC has learned about fighting poverty in the last 50 years. Gohl says that while some things have changed, some parts of the region continue to deal with the same issues.
One New Approach to Fighting Poverty- Promoting Appalachian Food
One of the most recent focuses of the ARC is local, healthy foods. Last year, the commission introduced a local foods map, called Bon Appetite Appalachia, that highlights restaurants, wineries and festivals that use local foods throughout Appalachia.
Local Foods Program Gets National Assistance
Wheeling, West Virginia was one of the top picks in a national Local Foods, Local Places Competition. As a result, local organizations are receiving technical assistance from multiple state and federal agencies- including the ARC- to help capitalize on the growing demand for local foods. As Glynis Board reports, meetings with federal agency representatives began on March 26th.
Early VISTAs in Appalachia
The War on Poverty also led to the creation of Volunteers in Service to America- or VISTA. VISTA was modeled on the Peace Corps, in which volunteers are deployed overseas. VISTA volunteers, however, stay in the United States for their service.
Gibbs Kinderman was one of the first supervisors for VISTA in West Virginia in the 1960s. In this episode we'll hear a documentary he produced in the 1980s about the history of those early years in Kentucky and West Virginia, of which he was a part.