Food Policy Action hosts telephone town hall calling for defeat of Steve Southerland

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A national non-profit nutrition group is actively trying to make sure U.S. Representative Steve Southerland isn’t re-elected.

The group Food Policy Action has made Southerland it’s number one target this midterm election. During a telephone town hall meeting Thursday night in which 24,000 voters were invited to listen in, leaders within the group blased the congressman’s voting record on food and nutrition programs.

“Few things have as much direct impact on our day-to-day lives as food,” said Claire Benjamin, Managing Director of Food Policy Action. “Our elected officials have tremendous influence over our nation’s food supply, but many politicians failed to support sensible food and farm policy time and time again. Unfortunately, Rep. Southerland is one of these politicians.”

The group is targeting Southerland because “he has repeatedly voted to cut funding for nutrition assistance, food safety and healthy food initiatives.”

That includes voting against a measure that would have ensured food was E. Coli and pesticide free.

Their top concern, however, is Southerland’s support of the 2014 Farm Bill that cut $8.7 billion from food stamps programs. That legislation has historically received bi-partisan support.

They also point to an amendment to the bill proposed by Southerland they say would have given cash incentives to states if they denied food assistance to families and veterans who have not been able to find work. It would have allowed states to increase work requirements for citizens to receive food stamps. Ultimately, his amendment did not make it into the final bill.

Food Policy Action’s fight against Southerland also includes a $20,000 digital campaign. It’s part of a broader $1 million nationwide effort.

Democrat Gwen Graham is challenging Southerland in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Polls show the race being tight with Graham leading by the slightest of margins.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.