Issue #33, August 25, 2015

TWEET OF THE WEEK
Our analysis of Gallup poll: declining # of families struggling to buy food, thx to #SNAP & nutrition progs http://bit.ly/1J7wSLb
FRAC
@fractweets Aug 20
   

FOOD HARDSHIP


Number of U.S. Families Struggling To Afford Food Drops To Pre-Recession Levels: Report – The Huffington Post, August 21, 2015
According to a recent Gallup survey analyzed by the Food Research and Action Center, the percentage of families saying they could not afford enough food dropped in the first half of this year to 15.8 percent; the rate was 16.7 percent in the first few months of 2008, when Gallup started collecting the data. FRAC notes that the decrease has been helped by the federal nutrition programs, with the economic recovery playing a role, and that this current “food hardship” rate is still too high. Legislators must be urged to continue supporting federal nutrition programs.

   

SCHOOL MEALS AND CHILD NUTRITION REAUTHORIZATION

Congresswoman calls for reauthorization of programs that combat hunger – NJ.com, August 20, 2015
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.) called Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a “no brainer” on her visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County summer meal program. “This is a really serious issue here,” she noted, adding that Congress must fully reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act in September. “The summer is a dangerous time for lower income and food insecure children,” said Ann Vardeman, program director of New Jersey Citizen Action, who accompanied Watson Coleman on the visit, along with representatives from Advocates for Children of N.J. and Anti-Poverty Network of N.J.

   

Poll Finds Most Back Healthy School Meals – The New York Times, August 19, 2015
A recent national poll released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation reports that 86 percent of Americans support the improved school meal nutrition standards signed into law in 2010. In addition, two-thirds said the nutritional quality of school food is excellent or good, an increase from 28 percent responding to a similar poll in 2010, before the new standards were issued. Currently, several bills in Congress are seeking to grant states waivers on some of the new nutrition standards and suspend a provision mandating reduced sodium levels.

   

Youth of Color Speak Out In Support of Healthier School Meals – The Lunch Tray, August 12, 2015
An organizing network of 15 youth and parent organizations of color in ten states – Youth for Healthy Schools (Y4HS) – recently teamed up with the American Heart Association to lobby Congress to keep school meals healthy. In an interview, the youth members of the organization said it’s important to keep school nutrition standards strong, “because the new school meal standards are working.” Low-income communities especially need the strong standards because they lack access to affordable healthy food – “one of the most critical social justice issues today.”

   

Rural Kids Less Likely to Use Lunch Program – Daily Yonder, August 17, 2015
A study from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy found that 63 percent of rural households qualifying for school nutrition assistance take advantage of it, compared to 71 percent urban households. In rural places, schools may be smaller and communities closer-knit, and “participation in the school meals program may be associated with more stigma than in other types of schools[,]” said the study’s author, Jessica Carson. She also  noted that the participation rate could be part of the current Child Nutrition Reauthorization as Congress reconsiders school meal legislation.

   

USDA summer meals sites feed hungry children – Worcester Telegram, August 9, 2015
On July 28, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) told the House floor “[w]e need to ensure that all students who are eligible for school meals have access to free summer meals, and that states and local communities have the funding and resources they need to reach all eligible children.” While more than 400,000 Massachusetts children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, more than 60,000 receive free summer meals at one of the 900 meal sites across the state. For thousands of Massachusetts families who find it hard to afford food, higher grocery bills during the summer are a struggle.

   

SNAP

I have a Master’s degree and a full-time job – and I’m still applying for food stamps – The Week, August 12, 2015
In 2010, 20.7 percent of New York City residents received SNAP benefits, while 63 percent of St. Louis residents (and 63 percent of children in that city) depended on the program. The cost of living rose in June for the fifth consecutive month, driven in large part by skyrocketing rents in U.S. cities. Nico Lang, in this op-ed, writes that he has had to apply for SNAP in New York City because of high rent, “steep student loan bills,” and the city’s daily cost of living – even though he has a full time job. He grew up on SNAP, relied on the program in college, and hoped he would be off the program once he got a full-time job.

   

60 percent spike in number of Hudson County kids in NJ SNAP, report says – NJ.com, August 14, 2015
In 2013, nearly 40 percent of Hudson County, NJ children relied on SNAP, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count report. “The fact is that the economic recovery has bypassed thousands of families, leaving them without the means to provide for their children,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “This threatens nearly every aspect of child well-being.”

   

Sooner or Later, Most of Us Will Be Poor and on Welfare – Spotlight on Poverty, August 12, 2015
The Census Bureau’s “dynamic” poverty rate shows that 34.5 percent of the U.S. population were poor at one time during two or more months between 2009 and 2012, and “many of us are just an accident, illness, job loss, or newborn baby” away from being low-income, writes author Stephen Pimpare in this commentary. More than half of us will rely on an assistance program like SNAP, Medicaid, housing assistance, etc. at some point in our adult lives, and the poverty rate would be higher if not for these programs. The Federal Reserve reports that, when asked if they could get by for three months on just their savings, 58 percent of those surveyed said “no.”

   

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