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FRAC WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST

Issue #41, October 10, 2017

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Anniversary

Oh SNAP! It’s Been 40 Years Since the Food Stamps Act – The Washington Post, September 29, 2017
September 29 marked the 40th anniversary of the Food Stamp Act’s signing, and during the ensuing years “the law has been strengthened on a bipartisan basis,” write Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Biden, and Ben Spielberg, who works with Bernstein at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in this blog post. SNAP provides critical support to 41 million Americans and responds quickly to natural disasters. In 2014, SNAP lifted eight million people, including four million children, out of poverty. Because the program quickly responds to economic downturns and provides economic stimulus, it “must not be turned into a ‘block grant.’” Block grant programs “are not nearly as responsive to the state of the economy.”
   

SNAP Cuts

Cuts to SNAP would hurt us all – The Sentinel, October 5, 2017
The House Budget Committee’s $10 billion in SNAP cuts would not only take meals away from 1.86 million Pennsylvanians relying on the program, the cuts would also have “negative financial consequences for our Commonwealth,” as SNAP brought $2.7 billion to the state’s economy last year, write Jane Clements Smith, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania, and Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, in this op-ed. “[F]ood banks don’t have the capacity to meet the need in Pennsylvania without SNAP,” they note.
   

Letter: SNAP in jeopardy – Post and Courier, October 2, 2017
The Lowcountry Food Bank in South Carolina cannot meet the needs of the hungry “without programs like SNAP,” writes Pat Walker, the food bank’s CEO and president, in this letter to the editor. The House budget resolution contains billions in SNAP cuts. “[I]t is essential that Congress supports full funding of SNAP,” Walker concludes. “We must urge our lawmakers in Congress to stand up for children by protecting the programs that help them get the food they need.”
   

New Research Released on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – WABI, October 4, 2017
More than half of respondents to a survey by Maine Equal Justice Partners and Preble Street said that they would get little to no help in purchasing food if they lost SNAP benefits. “We discovered that SNAP plays a huge role in helping Mainers get the food they need and are very concerned about prospective cuts to the program,” said Jan Bindas-Tenney, advocacy director at Preble Street. SNAP cuts “will only increase the rates of hunger Mainers are experiencing all over the state,” noted Bindas-Tenney.
   

Savanna Lyons: SNAP creates jobs, helps WV families, farmers – WV Gazette Mail, September 28, 2017
SNAP brought $499 million into West Virginia in 2016, and much of the money was spent in retail stores employing thousands of state residents, writes Savanna Lyons [program director of Refresh Appalachia] in this letter to the editor. The program also kept 74,000 people in the state out of poverty from 2009 to 2012. SNAP cuts could force rural grocery stores to lay off employees or close down; the cuts would cause families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities to suffer. Lyons concludes by urging readers to let the state’s federal representatives know of SNAP’s importance to West Virginia’s families and farmers.
   

Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP)

Weary families wait for disaster food assistance across Houston area as state extends deadline – Houston Chronicle, October 4, 2017
Thousands of people recently waited in lines to apply for D-SNAP benefits at four relief centers across Houston. “I live paycheck to paycheck and after losing my car and my home, I don’t have enough money to get back on my feet on my own and provide for my girls,” said Eduardo Sanchez, one of thousands struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. “Look around. I’m not alone.” More than 200,000 people have received D-SNAP benefits in Harris County, Texas. Sanchez said he would have applied earlier, but “[i]t’s easy to lose track when you have lost so much and you’re trying to figure out your new reality.”
   

School Meals

Oklahoma’s new education plan targets student hunger – NewsOK.com, October 2, 2017
In its recently submitted education plan, Oklahoma included the goal of more than doubling the number of students receiving free school meals. The plan is a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The state currently has one of the lowest rates of schools using the Community Eligibility Provision, which provides federal funding for free school meals, according to FRAC. The Oklahoma Department of Education is working to increase the number of students eating free breakfast by 20 percent by 2025, and summer meal participation by 30 percent.
   

Summer Meals

State Department of Education Sees Bump in Summer Food Program Participation – Public Radio Tulsa, October 4, 2017
Free summer meal participation in Oklahoma increased 14 percent in 2017, with 1.6 million free meals feeding children between May and August, according to the state’s Department of Education. The increase was in spite of cuts in education funding, which prevented schools from offering summer sessions, said Joy Hofmeister, state schools superintendent. Hofmeister noted that the state pursued other meal distribution strategies, using food trucks to deliver meals to regional libraries. The state has set a goal of increasing by 30 percent the number of free summer meals served by 2025.
   

Economic Inequality

US Middle Class Gets Richer, but Wealthy Do Even Better – The New York Times, September 27, 2017
A recent Federal Reserve survey found that while most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, median wealth for the richest 10 percent of all families increased 40 percent to $1.63 million. While black and Hispanic families reported large wealth gains, median wealth for white families last year was ten times that of Blacks and eight times that of Hispanics. The numbers indicate that the nation’s massive wealth and income disparities are worsening.
   

The new reality of old age in America – The Washington Post, September 30, 2017
As a result of two recent recessions which devastated personal savings, the shift in responsibility of the U.S. retirement system from employers to workers, and the weakening of purchasing power of Social Security benefits, millions of retired Americans are forced to work to survive. “There is no part of the country where the majority of middle-class older workers have adequate retirement savings to maintain their standard of living in their retirement,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist specializing in retirement security. According to a 2015 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, nearly 30 percent of households headed by someone 55 or older have no pension or retirement savings.