Idaho: Truck used for refugee vegetable project vandalized

A kind of “hate-crime?”

From Fox12.Idaho:

They call her ‘Big Green,’ but this 1965 custom Ford pickup lost much of her luster sometime on Tuesday night.

Owners of the once-beautiful truck say the windows and hood were smashed by vandals who may have been targeting a non-profit organization that teaches immigrant refugees how to farm in Boise.

Just who did it, hasn’t been caught.

The truck made its debut last week, delivering fresh produce in Boise, part of a program that teaches refugees to farm sponsored by an organization called “Create Common Good.”

Tyler Smith drives the truck, and says his heart sunk when he saw the vandalism early Tuesday morning.

“In my mind this is kind of a hate-crime, you know, like somebody didn’t like what we were doing,” Smith said.

Smith quickly reported the vandalism to police, who say they suspect the actions were done using some sort of a metal stake or pole.

The estimated damage to the custom truck is in excess of $1,000.

“Create Common Good” says they hope it isn’t sending a message of intolerance.

Tyler Smith says he hopes the vandalism was a random act, and not meant to send a message of hatred or intolerance to Boise’s refugee community.

Create Common Good currently employees a handful of refugees, and has trained roughly 200 others at its community garden site this year.

Organizers then teach them English and actively try to find them jobs.

Smith says many of the refugees are from war-torn countries, and more than a few have expressed disbelief that a culture of hatred or intolerance could exist in Boise.

Perhaps “Create Common Good” wants to set an example of how tolerance should work.

I guess we will just have to wait and see who is responsible, but this story gives me an opportunity to tell you about this relatively new grant program that doles nearly a million tax dollars out each year from Washington to teach refugees how to grow fruits and vegetables and then put their government-subsidized produce into the local farm economy.

It’s called the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP)

From the 2008 Office of Refugee Resettlement annual report to Congress you can see a list of the grantees for FY2008.

The report (page 40) says in addition to teaching refugees how to grow produce, the program puts an emphasis on improved access to Food Stamps and other welfare assistance:

Corollary to refugee families growing familiar and healthier foods has been the additional emphasis on nutrition education and improved access to USDAFood & Nutrition Service programs such as SNAP, WIC and Seniors Coupons. Under the leadership and support of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the use of farmers markets for accessing fresh produce and as a market outlet for refugee farmers has been promoted. [I think they are allowing farmers markets to take food stamps—boy, will that be an opportunity for fraud, convenience stores are bad enough!—ed]

I wrote a post in 2010 on the same topic here and asked the Food Stamp question then as well.

Here is a list for 2011 of the recipients of the RAPP grants.   Note that the recipient of the federal grant in Boise, Idaho is not ‘Create Common Good’ but is the Mountain States Group which must be subcontracting out to ‘Create Common Good’ (CCG) because I can’t find any tax information on CCG, but I can for Mountain States. [Update:  be sure to read comments to this post because reader ‘Bob’ tells us that Create Common Good is not the recipient of federal tax dollars.]   Readers, this is a very common practice—this business of collecting federal tax dollars at one point in the non-profit (quasi-government agency) chain and passing it along a chain of organizations making it more difficult for citizens to follow the money trail.

For a complete list of Idaho refugee partners, go here.

I’m not making excuses or even suggesting that any local (American) person in Idaho had any involvement with the vandalism (which is very wrong whoever did it), but I want readers to know that what local residents know is that some group of immigrants is getting money from Washington to, in this case, compete with them in their struggle to find work and survive in this economy.  The practice destabilizes communities.

Anyway, back to Mountain States Group, their feel-good project, and your money.

Check out their form 990 here for 2007-2008. (There are other years available, but I didn’t want to get too deep into the math, this year makes my point since ORR has released the 2008 report to Congress).

In 2008, Mountain States Group received $6,980,863 in government grants and $4,171,123 in government fees and contracts out of a total revenue stream of $11,794,982.  This isn’t a non-profit group, it is essentially an arm of the federal government and state government with 95% of its funds coming from taxpayers—but as a private non-profit group it enjoys the benefit of not being scrutinized by Congress.

Model for the World?

A model for the world says the farmer-girl and First Luddite herself, Michelle Obama:

“It’s a model for the nation, for the world”

First Lady, Michelle Obama upon visiting on April 15, 2010, the New Roots Community
Farm in San Diego developed by RAPP grantee, the San Diego
International Rescue Committee