Breakfast with George McGovern


Back in 1972, voters in New York City apparently saw something in Senator George McGovern that the rest of America and the Empire State did not. Buried in an electoral avalanche nationwide and in this state, McGovern won in the city (thanks to the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan). And he still draws an admiring crowd here, at least at the City Council, and on Hunger Awareness Day.

The former Democratic nominee headlined the day by having breakfast with Speaker Christine Quinn and some of the kids at PS 33, part of a public awareness campaign that Quinn hopes will increase participation in underused programs like school breakfast, summer meals, and Food Stamps. The goal, according to the speaker, is to reduce the number of hungry New Yorkers by more than half in the next four years. If nothing less, the 600,000 city residents who are eligible for but not enrolled in Food Stamps represents, “a billion dollars we’re leaving on the table in Washington,” Quinn says.

Council members suspended a budget hearing to join the former senator on the City Hall steps, and there was a scrum by a handful of councilmembers hoping to be photographed next to a colorful poster depicting the poor participation in school breakfast (17 percent) and summer lunch (14 percent) programs. However, only 27 of the 51 councilmembers answered Quinn’s call to have breakfast at a school in their district today.

McGovern says he and old nemesis/buddy/Viagra pitchman Bob Dole are starting a national coalition on hunger issues. Quinn’s in. But it look like those other 24 councilmembers aren’t hungry.