Issue #8, March 2, 2015
Federal Nutrition Programs
How this Congress can end hunger now - The Hill, March 2, 2015
In this op-ed, FRAC's Jim Weill and Feeding America's CEO Bob Aiken call on Congress to "make hunger a priority in our nation’s budget and maintain its historic bipartisan commitment to protecting the structure and funding of programs that provide food assistance to vulnerable low-income households."
USDA Launches Initiative to Develop New Solutions to End Child Hunger - USDA, March 2, 2015
At the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, DC, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $27 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed help end childhood hunger. The grants are being awarded to demonstration projects in Kentucky, Nevada, Virginia and the Chickasaw and Navajo Nations. The Virginia Hunger-Free Kids Act Demonstration Project will test the impact of providing three school meals a day to all children in select schools during the school year. The Nevada SNAP Enhancement Demonstration Project to test the relative impacts on SNAP households with children of an increase in SNAP benefits, and a SNAP increase plus additional outreach, education, and case management.
Vilsack, House Aggies, note farm bill’s first year – High Plains Journal, February 23, 2015
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently met with the House Agriculture Committee to discuss progress toward implementation of the Agricultural Act of 2014 over its first year. “Even with the budget savings the new farm bill provided, I remain concerned about attempts to reopen the bill, whether by making changes to…SNAP or any other farm bill program,” said Rep Collin Peterson (D-MN) the committee’s ranking member, in his opening remarks. “I hope that this committee will remain united in opposition to additional cuts to farm bill programs.”
SNAP overhaul: Holyoke woman unable to access food stamps until State Rep. Aaron Vega intervened – Masslive.com, February 20, 2015
Although Massachusetts implemented a new SNAP management system at the end of October 2014, hunger advocates say thousands of recipients in the state have had their benefits cut off. There was an 8.3 percent SNAP caseload drop in the state between October 2013 and October 2014, which advocates say is due to lost paperwork and inaccessible caseworkers. Mary Loughlin, SNAP and nutrition program manager at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, said caseworkers for the organization have contacted legislators in order to help their clients receive SNAP benefits after they have been cut.
Report: “Cliff Effect” harming Nebraska families – Columbus Telegram, February 26, 2015
For a recent report, Voice for Children in Nebraska surveyed 295 low-income women across the state, and found that 46 percent who participated in SNAP and other assistance programs experienced the “cliff effect.” The cliff effect happens when families receiving a small income increase find their assistance benefits cut back, and the income increase does not cover the loss. The report recommends ensuring that families are able to transition off safety net programs more gradually.
Report: Government programs reduce child poverty – Albuquerque Journal, February 27, 2015
Of the more than 572,000 children under the age of 18 in New Mexico, 31 percent (about 190,000 children) live in households at or below the federal poverty level. SNAP helped raise out of poverty the families of 102,000 of these children, according to a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report titled “Measuring Access to Opportunity.” The fact that so many families need this assistance shows there are “fundamental problems with the economy,” said Sharon Kayne of New Mexico Voices for Children. Better incomes are needed for families, and “incomes have not been keeping pace with increases in worker productivity and a corporate profits, which are at an all-time high,” noted Kayne.
School Breakfast Program
Twins Falls Schools Aim to Boost Breakfast Numbers – February 21, 2015
“Grab-and-go” is helping increase the number of students receiving school breakfast in a number of Twin Falls, Idaho schools. At Harrison Elementary School, breakfast participation increased from an average of 200 children to 383 after instituting grab-and-go, which allows students to take the meal to their class. At Vera C. O’Leary Middle School, breakfast participation increased by more than 100 students.
Op-Ed: The Power of a Simple Idea – Helping NJ Students Start the Day Healthier – NJ Spotlight, February 26, 2015
FRAC reported that the New Jersey school breakfast participation rate increased nearly 13 percent from the 2012-13 school year to the 2013-14 school year, while the average national rate of increase was three percent. New Jersey began implementing the Food for Thought: NJ School Breakfast Campaign four years ago, which provided breakfast to students after the school bell rings. The state climbed from 48th in ranking for breakfast participation to 28th.
Lights, camera, breakfast – Herald-Dispatch, February 25, 2015
According to FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard, West Virginia ranks first in the nation for school breakfast participation. State law mandated that the “Breakfast After First” program be available in all West Virginia schools at the start of the school year. “It worked really well,” said Rhonda McCoy, food services director for Barboursville Schools. “There are a lot of children out there that have homes that may not have breakfast available[.]”
School Nutrition Standards
Schools struggle to balance nutrition, taste with federal standards – Daily Times, February 22, 2015
Karen Helton, nutrition coordinator for Tennessee’s Blount County schools, said that federal nutrition guidelines are constantly changing and that while the county’s schools are “working under highly restrictive guidelines,” schools are meeting their nutrition goals. At William Blount High School, the students grow fresh produce which is then delivered to the cafeteria on the same day it’s picked. “When the fresh produce is in, we can’t keep up. Our kids see it’s fresh, and they can’t get enough of it,” said Helton.
The corrosive impact of America’s growing wealth gap – CBS News, February 18, 2015
According to a recent report from the Urban Institute, wealth inequality in America hits black and Hispanic families hard. In 1963, white families had an average of $117,000 more in wealth than nonwhite households; the number has increased to a difference of $500,000. Minorities also carry a higher average of student debt and have lower home ownership rates. The report encourages the government to institute policies to help poor and minority families build wealth through home ownership, retirement savings and college.
Meet the Workers Caring For Our Elderly While Living in Poverty – ThinkProgress.org, February 17, 2015
The nation’s two million home care aides make an average of $9.61 an hour, which comes to $1,652.92 a month, according to a Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute report. Yet many aides are not able to get enough hours. “The main thing that takes a hit would be my food budget,” said one aide in Chicago. Without set hours, it’s tough for them to hold another job. The report found that nearly three out of five aid workers receive one or more benefits such a SNAP and heating assistance.
Inequality and Income