Issue #33, August 22, 2016
Quote of the Week
“Status quo is not good enough when it comes to the well-being of our nation’s children,” said FRAC President Jim Weill in a recent press release. “More must be done to expand access to summer meals if we are to close the hunger gap and reduce the summer 'learning slide' for millions of our nation's children. Greater investments are needed to make these good programs even better.”
The summertime lunch program for students jointly operated by the city of San Diego and San Diego Unified School District served its 1 millionth meal Wednesday. The 13-year-old Summer Fun Cafe provides healthy meals to students up to age 18 during the gap in the school year. Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “Each meal makes a difference and through this partnership between the city and school district we’ve now been able to make a million differences.” Around 10,000 lunches have been served so far this summer.
Approximately 100,000 children in the 20-county area served by Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank are food insecure. These children simply are not sure where they will get their next meal. “For many food-insecure children and their families, a critical lifeline of support is the federally funded school meal program. And for nine months of the year, that makes a big difference. But for the summer months, when schools are out of session, the balancing act to ensure children have access to healthy, nutritious meals becomes much more challenging.”
The number of summer meals sites in Connecticut has increased 33 percent since 2011 to 714 sites. According to Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell, over 1.9 million meals have been served to 41,676 children. “Also last year, Connecticut ranked as one of five top-performing states in serving meals to children and teens during the summer, according to the Food Research & Action Center's (FRAC) Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status report, released in June.”
Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)
Flood victims should pre-register for benefits, state says — The Times-Picayune, August 15, 2016 The louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is encouraging residents are who are displaced by floods to register early for benefits under D-SNAP, formerly "Disaster Food Stamps," which provides assistance to eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits. D-SNAP helps people buy groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster.
Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) and Regional Administrator for USDA Food and Nutrition Service Bill Ludwig are hopeful that D-SNAP registration sites will be announced in the next few days. Residents affected by floods can pre-register online as well. “They are working as quickly as possible to get D-SNAP up and running as people get back in their homes and grocery stores get re-stocked,” said Natalie Jayroe, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank.
SNAP participation averaged 43,478,196 persons in May 2016, a decrease of 92,772 persons compared with April 2016 and a decrease of 2,017,088 persons compared with May 2015, according to FRAC analysis of preliminary USDA data. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010. The downward SNAP participation trend in May 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector. Read FRAC’s analysis and state-by-state trends charts for more information.
Foodlink’s Curbside Market, which focuses on bringing fresh, affordable produce to low-income communities, made a “double” announcement recently: a wheelchair-accessible truck debuted this summer and Foodlink has joined the Double Up Food Bucks program, which offers significant savings to customers enrolled in SNAP. “Many of the SNAP-eligible customers who shop at the new Curbside Market vehicle will benefit greatly from the Double Up Food Bucks program ... The program doubles the value (maximum of $10 per day) of federal assistance dollars spent at participating farmers markets.”
A local farm share program is in the midst of conducting four trial runs for a monthly Local Food Clinic that provides farm-fresh food access to low-income residents of Massachusetts. Designed to help people get involved in the farm share program through subsidized access, members can also enroll in SNAP and use their benefits to pay for farm share dues.
Researchers have found that using eligibility for school meals as an indicator of academic achievement for low-income students does not go far enough in predicting the learning gap. “The achievement gap between persistently disadvantaged children and those who were never disadvantaged is about a third larger than the gap that is typically measured.” Instead, it’s recommended to use eligibility for means-tested programs such as SNAP.
Many military families struggle against hunger, yet official research is extremely difficult to find. Current food policy denies thousands of households from enrolling in SNAP on the basis of receiving a Basic Allowance for Housing military benefit. “However, because of an unintentional oversight by Congress, the BAH was not specifically excluded as income for determining eligibility for SNAP, systematically rendering those families ineligible.” Researchers urge Congress to remove this barrier to accessible food for military families.