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FRAC WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST

Issue #2, January 9, 2017

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There are only a few days left to register for the 2017 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference at the Early Bird Registration rate of $350 per person. After January 13 at midnight Eastern time (this FRIDAY), the rate increases to $415 per person.

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

State Republicans bent on policing poor folks’ shopping carts see hope in Trump – ThinkProgress.org, January 4, 2017
Officials in Arkansas and Maine are prepared to ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture, once the new administration is in office, for waivers allowing new restrictions on purchases made by SNAP recipients. Previously, such waivers have been denied by USDA. The restrictions would force hundreds of thousands of stores nationwide to implement new rules at checkout counters. “For people who care about efficient government, it’s pretty hard to get more efficient than the public-private partnership that SNAP has,” said Ellen Vollinger of the Food Research & Action Center.
   

Will drug testing for food stamps become law in Wisconsin under Trump admin.? – 1410 WIZM, January 4, 2017
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin continue to support an agenda featuring drug testing for SNAP recipients, and Gov. Scott Walker is pushing the incoming presidential administration to allow drug testing to move forward, although the federal government has blocked state laws proposing the move in the past. “We debated that issue on the floor of the legislature,” said Democratic State Rep. Steve Doyle. “People pointed out the cost of the testing compared to the very, very, very few people who actually tested positive.” He noted that drug testing “doesn’t seem like a good way to spend our hard earned tax dollars. There’s just no payback to it.”
   

Aid programs lift people out of poverty – The Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 2016
Michael Brown, in this letter to the editor, urges legislators to educate the incoming administration about the benefits of the social safety net. “I grew up in poverty, and were it not for the ‘Food Stamp Program’ … I would have never received the proper nutrition that a child needs to develop their mind and body. Consequently, I may have never received an education that allowed me to pull myself out of poverty.”
   

Extended hours for food stamps and other services paying off for Jefferson County Human Services - The Denver Post, January 4, 2017
Colorado's Jefferson County Human Services began staying open on Tuesdays until 8 p.m. back in October 2015, and is the only human services office among its neighbors to stay open after 5 p.m. Extending the hours helped serve 972 people as of the end of November. Services offered during the extended hours include SNAP eligibility assistance. According to a report from Hunger Free Colorado at the beginning of 2016, Colorado ranked 46th in the nation for reaching eligible people with SNAP. Jefferson County reached 53 percent of those eligible.
   

SNAP provided relief to more than 488,000 North Carolinians – Jefferson Post, January 3, 2017
Hurricane Matthew caused more damage in North Carolina than Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and affected 4.2 million state residents across 48 counties. Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) “played a critical role in providing for residents and helping to stabilize Eastern North Carolina’s disrupted economy,” writes Brian Kennedy, a public policy fellow at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, in this op-ed. D-SNAP benefits assisted 488,000 people in the state at a time when thousands were temporarily or permanently out of work, schools were closed for weeks, and children in low-income families were not able to receive free or reduced-price school meals.
   

SNAP clients can replace outage-damaged food – Bismarck Tribune, December 30, 2016
The North Dakota Department of Human Services provided replacement SNAP benefits to SNAP households in the state faced with replacing perishable food items due to power outages from the recent blizzard. Replacement benefits were available to households experiencing four or more hours of power loss and lost food purchased with SNAP benefits.
   

Free EBT machines available for direct market farmers – The Pagosa Springs Sun, December 30, 2016
Farmers markets, farm stands, and community supported agriculture (CSAs) in Colorado can sign up for free electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines, which will allow SNAP recipients to purchase healthy food at all of these participating locations. Four registration sessions are available, which will feature an overview of how EBT works and information on signing up for the Double Up Food Bucks program. Those interested can register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SNAPauth by Friday, January 13.
   

Help is hiding in plain sight for New York’s poor – Crain’s New York Business, December 19, 2016
Hospitals, libraries, public housing, AARP, and places of worship are committed to joining food pantries and supermarkets in helping more eligible New York City residents sign up for SNAP, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit, notes Reynold Levy, president of Robin Hood, a public charity in the city, in this op-ed. About 600,000 city residents are eligible for SNAP but are not receiving benefits, and 300,000 are not taking advantage of the tax credits. If these eligible people were enrolled, “more than $1 billion in federal funds would become available,” providing money that “would be spent in economically distressed neighborhoods, supporting local businesses.” Many don’t know they’re eligible; other barriers to participation include the stigma attached to accepting help and navigating a bureaucratic maze required of applicants.
   

Food stamps for Christmas: 2 million Illinoisans struggle to put food on their tables – Illinois Policy, December 25, 2016
According to November 2016 data from the Illinois Department of Human Services, 1.92 million Illinois residents relied on SNAP benefits during the holiday season. Although SNAP participation dropped by 70,000 between November 2015 and November 2016, the state’s participation outpaced its neighbors in August 2016. “Commonsense reforms to improve the state’s job market” are needed from policymakers to help shrink the number of Illinois residents struggling with hunger.
   

School Meals

Free Meals Program Continues at Newfield Elementary – Ithaca.com, December 24, 2016
Newfield Board of Education in New York State reports that since the elementary school began offering free lunch to all students, participation in the program increased from 57 percent in November 2015 to 65 percent in November 2016. The school’s cafeteria manager saw an immediate increase in the number of students receiving school lunch.
   

Affordable Care Act

How Obamacare could help end hunger – The Boston Globe, December 29, 2016
The Affordable Care Act mandates that nonprofit hospitals conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Plan every three years in order to maintain their nonprofit status. These assessments have reported food insecurity as a top finding, notes Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank, in this op-ed. The findings have encouraged medical centers to develop Community Health Implementation Plans to address hunger among patients, and partnerships with food banks are being developed along with plans to connect patients to federal assistance programs.

   

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